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Sunday, November 04, 2018


by Lois Leveen

Photo by Sarah Gould.

It's odd to dress up
as a Jew when you
are already a Jew
but I do. Costume
myself in calf
length skirt, bright blue
blouse, covered head. The nose
I have with me always.
At my throat, sixteen
carat  מָגֵן דָּוִד shield of David
dangling from rope
chain. I clutch prayer
book instead of purse.
Apply make up to make
a bullet hole between my eyes, another
at my heart.

When I arrive at the party
vampires and zombies
snub me. Skeletons turn
their scapulared backs.
A werewolf at the punchbowl
mutters asshole.
Undaunted by the undead
I search the crowded room for a black
kid killed in the park by a cop,
queers of color gunned down
on the dance floor, teacher
and students schooled
to death by a lone shooter, any one
of fifty-eight massacred country
music festival attendees. But not even
the Sikh slain for being
Muslim has come. You're a fright
to behold! screams
the glow-in-the-dark tshirt of the ghoul
who tells me to leave. A fright not
to be held in this house
of horrors, I step into the dark
and stormy night of America. America opens
its arms to ones like me.

Lois Leveen is old enough to remember when adults didn’t go to Halloween parties and children to go through active shooter drills in school. She is the author of the novels Juliet's Nurse (Simon and Schuster) and The Secrets of Mary Bowser (HarperCollins). Her poetry and short prose have appeared on/in Ars Medica, The Atlantic, Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, The Chicago Tribune, cloudbank, Culminate, Hawai'i Pacific Review, The Intima, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Monkey Puzzle, The New York Times, NPR, and The Southhampton Review; one of her poems is inscribed on a hospital wall.