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Thursday, July 12, 2018


by Jan Steckel

“Happy is he who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rocks.”
—Psalm 137:9

By the waters of the Rio Grande
our hands were cuffed,
our children taken.

We didn’t know in Bohemia’s Terezin,
Theresienstadt was a model camp.
Propaganda film: a Jewish orchestra
before it went up in smoke.

We’d heard Argentina
stole babies for barren
military couples, dropped mothers
from helicopters into the sea.

Tornillo in the Texas desert:
white tents pitched overnight.
Drone-photo of boys marched in lines.
Journalists not allowed inside.

In jail I got a receipt
for my wallet, but none for my son.
By the Rio Grande,
I lay down and wept.

Jan Steckel'poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a 2012 Lambda Literary Award. Her fiction chapbook Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009) and poetry chapbook The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006) also won awards. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Scholastic Magazine, Yale Medicine, Bellevue Literary Review, Canary, Assaracus, and elsewhere. Her work was nominated three times each for the Pushcart and Sundress Best of the Net anthologies, won the Goodreads Poetry Contest three times, and earned various other awards.