When you take off your mask, what is your true address


If you had a choice, which tree

would you like to be

which Beethoven symphony


What is the color of Robert Burns’ red red rose


Which is the most difficult of the ten commandments


Did you take Home Economics in high school, or did you take Shop


Who is the one who hurt you the very most? Was this in grade school

was it at home in the kitchen

in  the forest glade of bottles of beer


Why did they do it


Why could you never prevent  them hurting you

you in your jacket of anger, your                    unlaced shoes of loss


Whom did you hurt the very most

while considering yourself

the innocent victim


Why do you believe you were born in a death camp


When you are freezing, does it help to bite your nails


Do you really still shoplift


Why are you so fond of dancing   do you love your body that much


When we throw away our handcuffs, will they be buried in sand


Do you want your children to spend an average three hours a day

tethered to the tube

through which an entire culture feeds them lies


When you were alive, did you like having money


Did you like sex


Well, did you like it anyway?


Which train are we on   is there a quiet car   is there a car for weepers

for weapons

for widows



Alicia Ostriker is a poet and critic.  Her thirteenth poetry collection, The Book of Seventy, received the 2009 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry; The Book of Life: Selected Jewish Poems 1979-2011 received a Paterson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.  She has also received awards from the Poetry Society of America, the San Francisco Poetry Center, the Guggenheim foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation among others, and has twice been a National Book Award finalist.  Her most recent book of poems is The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog.  As a critic, Ostriker is the author of Stealing the Language: the Emergence of Women’s Poetry in America, and has published several other books on poetry and on the Bible. She is Professor Emerita of Rutgers University, lives in Princeton, NJ and NYC,  and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program of Drew University.

Issue #43 January 2015
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