Two Poems by Alan Elyshevitz

Make Me Famous

as a teenager

or a baritone in Congress
from a district of bear grass
collecting handshakes
warm as spent cartridges

as a teenager

or an entrepreneur of cheese
mold in this luckily pliant
culture where what turns bad
turns money

as a teenager

or a psychoanalyst who shares
details of a labile diva
who wears so much less
on the Internet

as a teenager

or a hot designer who markets
a brand new line
sheds workforce and forces
consumers to wear thin

as a teenager

or a hurricane that carries
or a pesticide that carries
or a virus that carries
malice toward human assets

as a teenager

who is planning something
big with a cigarette lighter
aware at last that shyness
is a shade of anger



I’ve been thinking of Butterworth —
the British composer who died in World War I —
the helmet he may have worn in the trenches,
mottled with mustard and mud,
while clumsy toys of war flopped over hillocks,
overturning the soil, subverting the Belgian earth
devoid of willows but marred with bodies
like shattered violas strewn on cropless fields,
every square meter as dead as metal,
and all in shades of gray.

In the black-and-white footage you never see blood.

I remember my visit to Auschwitz —
the camp reformed, now a museum —
the infamous iron gate where the visitor
ceases to view the camp through fifty years
of documentary fuzz overdubbed with mournful cellos.
I stood at that gate with my located limbs,
my perfect fingers, ten good toes,
and all of my sockets intact.

Shapes were familiar from cinema, but not the colors.

God, the colors!



Alan Elyshevitz is a poet and short story writer from East Norriton, PA. His collection of stories, The Widows and Orphans Fund, was published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press. In addition, he has published three poetry chapbooks, most recently Imaginary Planet (Cervena Barva). He is a two-time recipient of a fellowship in fiction writing from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Currently he teaches writing at the Community College of Philadelphia.