Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

The New World

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

The New World

Article excerpt

My uncle killed a man and was proud of it.

Some guy with a knife came at him in Flatbush

and he knocked the fucker to the ground.

The sidewalk finished the job.

By then he'd survived two wives and

a triple bypass. He carried the plastic tubing in his pocket

and would show it to you, to anyone.

He'd unbutton his shirt right there on the street

to show off the scar.

In the old country, his father was killed by a Cossack.

Some drunk came after the old man with an ax

and his sister Anna tried to staunch the wound

with a hunk of dry bread.

That's the old country for you:

they ate with their hands, went hungry to bed,

slept in their stink. When pain knocked

they hurried to the door.

Now he was a good-looker in a pin-striped suit

and spiffy shoes. …

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