“The End Has Feet” by Jake Marmer

Jake Marmer


the end has feet
and it keeps walking away from us
says Lev as we trudge through the side-trail
that never seems to merge
back to the main road
the end, it just disappears
says Ora as we finally climb out from the shrub
shake out the dirt from our shoes and take in
the sight—
Los Angeles, peopled vastness fused into shoreline
fades into fog or horizon or simply the end
of the visible
I take the picture of the two of them smiling
thumbs up, sweaty faces, still so young—
and send it halfway
across the planet
to my parents, who don’t speak the same language
as my children but read their smiles
as a kind of insurance
the world still exists
it’s nighttime
where they are
they respond immediately, awake
to their own horizon blurring at the edges of the TV
city after city covered by rocket fire
all around
yes, photos, anything
to ask them
without asking—
if I refresh my screen enough times
can I be assured that when I put down
my phone their town
will remain untouched
in this volley of death?
thousands of miles, my short-
circuiting universe, all of it, here—
it’s a loop
the trail, I mean
our own feet marking
the end where beginning once was

from Poets Respond
October 18, 2022


Jake Marmer: “The poem I’m sending you is a direct response to what’s happening in Ukraine, where my parents live. The dissonance of my life here and theirs there weighs heavily on me, and most days I find myself seeing and feeling both of our realities at once. The week is just starting, and I don’t know what the rest of it will bring, but sending a poem your way feels good right now.” (web)

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