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Wednesday, September 18, 2013


by Judy Kronenfeld

We've all seen, or heard of it--
some chemical  sparked by pain
does a crazed dance
in the brain, and the geek nephew
everyone thought a natural, can’t
face another year in school and
come September, comes unglued, almost froths
at the mouth by the breakfast bar,
spittle roping from his lips,
violently throws off the arms
that try to comfort him, and who knows
what next; the co-worker not yet
in the news, who’s had it up to here
plus, with more work and a benefits
cut, rampages in the Men’s,
pulling sinks from the wall
and smashing them, or goes home
where his wife mysteriously falls
and breaks her arm. O.K. they’ve always
had a tendency, drank too much,
yelled at their wives or parents,
bullied their classmates or younger
brothers, locked themselves
in their rooms; O.K. some of us
tried, we really did, got them
to counselors, it’s not our fault,
is it, if they refused to go,
or quit their meds? And some of us
closed our eyes because familial
ties make anything familiar,
and the desire to protect can blind,
and some of us sternly disallowed
the inappropriate—“Pull up those
bootstaps, kid! Right-face!”—
and some of us kicked the fellow
to the side of the road. And some of us—
lots of us—have no way to recognize
what goes awry, ourselves already brutalized,
and so many of us have no way
to guide, no knowledge, no resources,
not a dime to spare to soothe
a crazy head. We don’t help
these people—we give them

Judy Kronenfeld's most recent collections of poetry are Shimmer (WordTech Editions, 2012) and the second edition of  Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, winner of The Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize for 2007 (Antrim House, 2012). Recent anthology appearances include Before There Is Nowhere to Stand: Palestine/Israel: Poets Respond to the Struggle (Lost Horse Press, 2012) and Love over 60: An Anthology of Women's Poems (Mayapple Press, 2010). Her poems have appeared in many print and online journals such as Calyx, Cimarron Review, The American Poetry Journal, Fox Chase Review,  Foundling Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Hiram Poetry Review, Natural Bridge, New Verse News, The Pedestal, Poetry International, Spoon River Poetry Review, Stirring, and The Women’s Review of Books.