Chana Bloch

The New World

My uncle killed a man and was proud of it.  
Some punk with a knife came at him in Flatbush   		 
and he knocked the sucker to the ground. 			 
The sidewalk finished the job. 

By then he'd survived two wives 
and a triple bypass. He carried 
a bit of the plastic tubing in his pocket 
and would show it to anyone.  				
He'd unbutton his shirt right there on the street    	  
and show off the scar.  						 	 

As a boy, he watched a drunken Cossack 
go after his father with an ax. 
His sister tried to staunch the bleeding  		 
with a hunk of dry bread.

That's the old country for you:
they ate with their hands, went hungry to bed,		 
slept in their stink. When pain knocked, 
they opened the door.  			 

The bitter drive to Brooklyn every Sunday		 	 
when I was a child— 
Uncle George in the doorway snorting and laughing, 		 
I'm gonna take a bite of your little behind.

He was a good-looker in a pin-striped suit    	 
and wingtip shoes. 	
This is America, we don't live 
in the Dark Ages anymore, honey.		  	  
This is a free country.