She Should Have Won the National Book Award

by Mark Chmiel

But then I think
What do these awards mean
They gotta serve somebody

I’ve checked the libraries
It’s her only book
On this—or any— subject

Why should the luminaries and guardians honor her
Which is to say honor our victims
Because that’s what she did

And that is just a little too much
For our Establishment Know-It-Alls
We make mistakes but we don’t commit unforgivable countless crimes

And maybe you, too, would wanna steer clear
I get that—after all, Franz Kafka’s sensibility
Is not mainstream America

But Martha Hess produced a work
That could break the sea frozen inside of us
If we would dare to turn to page one of

Then the Americans Came

–from novel-in-process, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

Advertisements