Poetry Suite by Zoe Canner

Editor Sam Preminger, Poetry, November 5th, 2018

"My body / is under attack"

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Poetry by Zoe Canner

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my body is a temple

 

my body is a charleston

church. my body is a

 

pittsburgh synagogue.

 

my body is an oak creek

sikh temple / mistaken

 

for a mosque. my body

is under attack. from

 

the inside. please stop

 

killing the souls. inside

my only house.

 

i don’t know how many

 

temple blows this

body can endure

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spring baby

for Mireille Knoll

 

the best passovers happened when the magnolia tree in the yard was full

bloom to welcome our many guests. the beauty arresting and short-lived,

 

a once a year, couple days’ event, just like our legendary seders –

a miracle when they overlapped.

 

the whole tree always burst into bloom at once. and the very

next day the buds would begin their drooping, weighing

down the branches and then papering the yard everywhere.

 

but it was the softly sweet, somehow gravity-challenging fragrance,

hanging in the newly humid air like fine musk, and the feel

 

of the many silky slippery petals against the winter-raw skin of my bare

feet and face and shoulders that sang to my sleepy endangered-child soul.

 

my dad spoke slowly, calmly, quietly, but seriously, i was four

and full of giddy bliss whenever my parents or older brother

 

spent time in my room – it always felt like a guest star was visiting

my tv show, the room shrinking in response to their anomalous presence.

 

listen, he said, there are always more people who hate jews than the number

of jews who are alive. at every point in time.

 

you must understand this.

 

and also. there are always more people who don’t hate

jews than people who hate jews.

 

you must understand the danger. and you must understand

there are always fewer people with hate in their hearts

in this gigantic breathtaking world that we both adore.

 

i don’t have hate in my heart. my heart is slippery with time

and bruised, plump with relentless hope.

 

all of our bests and all of our worsts go

so fast, so fast

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what we do to animals

 

florence killed millions &millions of

chickens / what we do / my secret

 

confession / knee-deep in wood-chips / i never

connected with animals / but always knew / like

 

right / like rain / they have souls / i became

a vegetarian at age ten / &been one since

 

because i am not comfortable with the indignity

of eating someone / but eat away / go ahead / i’m

 

not here to judge or proselytize / not here

to feel comfortable naming animals / not

 

keeping them as pets / i believe in the food

chain / or something / but millions of millions

 

of chickens drowned in a hurricane / boggles

the / tickles the / tricks the / shivers the / hurts

 

the / oh / for every of the / million chicken

souls / &i don’t know much / but i do know

 

that i was a pig in a past life / so don’t even

get me started on the thousands of pigs

 

killed / cold / alone / wet / confused / in this

hurricane / i don’t like this / i don’t like any

 

of this / when my dad was seventeen / he worked

on a farm / was in charge of the chickens / he left

 

the water on / by accident one night &the next

day saw that he had drowned all the chickens /

 

all two hundred / or so / chickens / he was so

mortified / so upset / he refused to ever work

 

with animals again / my whole life he was

haunted by those chickens / my dad would

 

say / ugh, get away from me / to friendly

 

dogs who came to sniff around / why do they

like me i’m no good, no good / he’d mutter /

 

a swell of discolored contaminated water filled

with rotting animal carcasses can trick the eye /

 

some believed they were seeing a new kind

 

of algae / some thought they were looking at

thousands of beautiful dresses lost at sea

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twelve years of here / there days on repeat

 

 

autumnal tundra / florescent suction / blows

change / the bad kind / dithering diligent

 

daughter descends to knees / nieces pieces to

 

please / east coast me me me / pulling

muscles from a shell / father farther health

 

failing / further father hell / i’m letting you go

 

/ it’s okay you can go now / go go / hard to let

go / heaping praise migraines me for days /

 

illness is no ones fault-line crack / press your

 

feet hard zo into my lower back / just soothe

bed-pains / blinding light too much / brother

 

can’t do it never ever could / made of wood /

 

keep my hands close memories closer / keep

your moth shop tended if you want to be a

 

poster girl for bystander intervention / once

 

twice / every time / nothing could ever be

enough good to balance out grapefruit

 

hate-stained moment / twenty-first century is

 

for tears / kerosene flicker in here out there

quicker / sicker and sicker / let go let go

 

directive / mmmm kind of mom not mom

 

ever-mom mess / nearing g-w-b speed-bump

early morning sounds smells arrest / opening

 

a heart is only good with a wrench / a potholder

 

time friction grip hot-handle / deface

all sick hick signs / all the hick time / hick

 

crime / in thick hick pine / my problems are

 

plenty / just getting {myles voiced} stahted /

this kind of arrogant prick presumes to know

 

when it’s time for others to die / it’s okay /

 

you can let go / when i hear of other quaint

death moments / honey cried out to momhon

 

/ don’t die don’t leave don’t go / i admire and

 

feel like a clinical cold fish / it was his time /

all of the organs of his body were going /

 

fifty-three so young / easing transitions

 

my namesake guess / rain / welcome rain /

welcome / hue here and saturated there / toast

 

to every time holocaust surviving grandparents

 

outlive their son / granddaughter hugs herself

with brain pain and heartache fissure / under

 

these ugly wet boots is ugly wet news / veiny

 

tuesday drum to foolsday / i’m thinking in this

position / what’s the matter wednesday / sick

 

to say / let’s all die before next week / excuses

 

ex we cis exit okayness / you say this / yelling

/ hey miss / last words / zoe zoe zo zo zoezo / i

 

don’t know where zoe is / before consciousness

 

closed the door / thirty-four hours later / just

us / my dad kindred spirit fierce-love critical

 

devotion guide and / little me / in a crushing

 

doom room ICU cocoon / blooming heart /

slows blooming down / to blooming zero

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hey, western chauvinist

 

please be gentle

with me

if you

want to

not get picked

on i want to

not get

picked

off i

celebrate

beauty

what me

what

love trials

wicked raw

&tired

companion

do we love

similar things

is obsession

a kind of

love

hate is an

obsession

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lordy

 

 

whenever someone says

 

there’s an active shooter

in pittsburgh at a

 

synagogue / my

 

stomach drops out of

my body &i lose it

 

somewhere on the trail

 

i’m out here in the

green,  my courtyard

 

still lush &often

 

damp with dew, please

don’t murder me just

 

because i am a jew

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Header image courtesy of Robert Monaghan. To view his Photo Essay, go here.

Zoe Canner is an angry, anti-racist, 3rd Generation Holocaust Survivor. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in SUSAN / The Journal, Naugatuck River Review,The Laurel Review, Arcturus of the Chicago Review of Books, Storm Cellar, Maudlin House, Occulum, Pouch, Indolent Books’ What Rough Beast, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles where she indulges in hilly walks at dusk when the night-blooming jasmine is at its peak fragrance.

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Sam Preminger

Sam Preminger is a Portland-based poet. Their work has appeared throughout various publications and they hold an MFA from Pacific University.