The recommendation from some website quoted on the news
is to rape, cut the throats of, and throw female Jews
off a cliff. But how far are the cliffs of Ithaca
from Cornell, where the raping and throat slashing
is supposed to occur? And if you don’t have a car,
are you supposed to borrow one or can you Uber a body
to a cliff and ask the driver to wait while you chuck it off?
And what if you’re afraid of heights? It’s time we address
the shocking lack of detail in antisemitism. It’s one thing
to hate Jews but another to ask me to hate Jews
without telling me how to hate Jews or why I should hate anyone
when loving everyone is an option. A difficult one, I admit,
impossible even, but in a process sense, it requires no knives
or cars or evil and can be conveyed in a simple phrase:
See someone, love someone. Or, Love thy neighbor
as thou loves apple pie. Or, love thy stranger
as thou loves starlight for touching us
without knowing our names. Have you ever felt
as brittle as kindling shattering to pieces
just under the shower curtain of your skin?
It’s a rhetorical question because I know you have
and will, as I have and do right now.
So screw every cult of hate. Every bullet and knife
and bomb and shitty thing said under the breath
or with the full conviction of the lungs. If you see a Jew,
be a Jew. If you see a Muslim, be a Muslim. If you see a human,
be a human. The lend-an-ear or a hand kind.
The “how’s it going” kind. The kind kind. No one chooses who
or where or when to be. We just sort of collectively are.
So hating you for being you makes no more sense
than you hating me for being me. And I don’t want to be raped
or have my throat slashed or get thrown off a cliff,
hard as that is to believe. I want to see the cliffs of Ithaca
in moonlight. The Kaaba in Mecca circled by a crowd
pulsing with faith. The Ice Hotel in a snow storm.
I want a really good pizza with an egg on it.
To kiss my wife on top of the Eiffel Tower.
All the parts of her that are Jewish
and all the parts that are human
and all the parts that make her sigh and moan.
Being human means understanding that being human
is the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
That we’re all partisans in this struggle,
fellow teamsters in not knowing
what the hell is going on, brothers and sisters
stuffing our befuddlement every morning
into pants and dresses we hope
don’t make us look fat and stupid and lost.
Everyone I know feels lost. The trick is
to feel lost together. Maybe you have a map
and I have a canteen. Certainly someone
has a pogo stick or cyclotron. We need food
and light and harmonicas and theremins
and stories about monsters
who decide not to eat the child
or stomp the village or fly over the night
with death on their wings. Lost together,
our nowhere becomes our somewhere. Lost together,
the dream of home never dies.
—from Poets Respond
November 5, 2023
Bob Hicok: “Don’t know what to say about this, other than what the poem does.”