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Saturday, November 26, 2022


by Susan Cossette

Photograph by Mark Wilson / Getty via The New Yorker

It is Wednesday, 
another happy hour at the Chesterbird American Legion.
The usual suspects of retirees, widows, 
and slumming white collar workers shuffle in
to claim a spot at the sticky bar, 
a creaky chair at a wobbly table.
We buy bingo tickets, pull tabs, and cheese curds.
Tonight, the MAGA hats return,
worn bent brims, sweat stains on the cap.
Bearded men in Carhart workpants take selfies,
drink cheap American beer.
Make America Great and Glorious Again.
Gloating, they wait for new, improved, hats.
In the meantime, they disparage the “fucking Jews”
and the snowflake liberals.
In 1943, my Aunt Theresa was deported to Auschwitz,
greeted by Josef Mengele.
His leather crop pointed right, 
she went to the barracks.
Her head and pubic hair shaved by male SS.
She was 15.
Everyone who went right got the Zyklon B, 
her parents included.
Tourists regard the fingernail scratches on the cement walls 
under false shower heads.
I pay my bill, quietly,
tap one red-hat man on the shoulder
and tell him this story
and that perhaps he needs to reconsider hate speech
in public spaces 
because you never know who might be listening.

Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and Moth, The New York Quarterly, ONE ART, As it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin Chic, The Amethyst Review, The New Verse News, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Fast Fallen Women (Woodhall Press) and Tuesdays at Curley’s (Yuganta Press).