I’m from schlemiel, schlemazel, and “I’m all feklept.”
The second one I put in a poem about Isaac;
I called him “that schlemazel, Issac.”
He was kind of a nebbish, if you remember
And the third’s from a Saturday Night Live rerun
The coffee talk lady says, “I’m all feklept!”
Just like my mother did.
Or did she say, “f’kakta”?
She might have – it comes from the Yiddish
for shit – you know, the derivation of ‘ka-ka.’
“All shitted up”; it was often like that
where I come from, but not at Unity House
in the Poconos every summer.
We went to that camp of the ILGWU
Because my grandpop was a tailor, so we got a discount.
My father taught me how to row a boat there.
There were snails in the lake
which reminds me that I also come from snails
those weird things to step on,
and I come from maple tree helicopters too
because we split them open where the seed pod was gooey
and wore them on our noses
I remember that joy; we were in love with ourselves that day and
Marion got me to mail ants down the mailbox in envelopes
with the names of people we hated, like Miss Schatz, our second
grade teacher, who shamed her when she peed her pants-
Then Hitler; I had only just heard about the ovens that cooked
my ancestors; I come from a certain gloom.
I come from mailing Hitler an envelope of ants.