The Juice Bar at the Holocaust

The Juice Bar at the Holocaust
by Bill Shively

The abrupt end to some of the things I’ve
done asleep, or between,
is often not enough

The challenge is
creating in the predawn movement
a herringbone that we’ve not seen,
something that confirms
I’ve left sleep land.

If the sky can’t teach you
a lesson every day,
then you’re just a necklace from
an old lover in the jewel box of recollects.

Let me say I don’t
make all my students cry.
Like free range rabbits you don’t have to feed them,
you just have to catch them

And then the day finally starts like a
white Ford with a sawed off roof
and a visqueen rear window.

I do provide them the opportunities
To learn how to make choices:
Birds fly into windows
some bounce right off,
and some cats have learned to swim the moat.

Go ahead and sneer
scream and swear again-
I had this one student, Crow,
raped by his foster father,
lived in a closet,
of a garage apartment,
watching his mother, beat,
Shiver as she lights the pipe.

Not knowing how time exists, to him written words were
magic, readers wizards. Listening to the drip
Crow used his skills counting twenty,
(fingers, toes and nose) twenty one,
then he’d start again:
When a deer gets hit by a tractor trailer
there is a lot of blood
but barely a bump in the road.

Yell for all you’re worth.
Let it out
and someone’s gonna let you in.

But there are writing drills and Oregon Trail and self esteem
and beadwork and playing well with others
and there is watering the garden
and painting the walls
and sometimes even laughter.

The startled voice of a fisher
Across the chromium water

I think of Suzanne, I call her Mack,
in the deserted desert night,
in her bedroom,
in the basement,
under the blanket tatters,
into the pillow, Mack,
so your momma doesn’t know.
The tangled sheets of your talk,
You want to run out of gas.

But there are basic math facts
and posters to be made
and room clears and physical restraints
and we do the read aloud
and some days I hope they’re going to stay awake.

I grade my papers at the end of the day,
in a quiet tavern nearly almost out of glasses,
and I think
their beer is that good.

1 thought on “The Juice Bar at the Holocaust

  1. I got off on the comparisons which seemed to breathe and took an interest in the lives of student poets. It’s not the attaining in life, it’s the straining. Any poem that ends with beer has my everlasting admiration. Furtive read!

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