Chanukah Lights Tonight

By Steven Schneider Steven Schneider
Our annual prairie Chanukah party—   
latkes, kugel, cherry blintzes.   
Friends arrive from nearby towns   
and dance the twist to “Chanukah Lights Tonight,”   
spin like a dreidel to a klezmer hit.   

The candles flicker in the window.   
Outside, ponderosa pines are tied in red bows.   
If you squint,   
the neighbors’ Christmas lights   
look like the Omaha skyline.   

The smell of oil is in the air.   
We drift off to childhood   
where we spent our gelt   
on baseball cards and matinees,   
cream sodas and potato knishes.   

No delis in our neighborhood,   
only the wind howling over the crushed corn stalks.   
Inside, we try to sweep the darkness out,   
waiting for the Messiah to knock,   
wanting to know if he can join the party.

Reprinted from “Prairie Air Show,” Talking River Publications, 2000, by permission of Steven Schneider. Poem copyright © 2000 by Steven Schneider.

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Poet Steven Schneider

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Religion, Judaism

Holidays Hanukah

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Steven  Schneider


Steven P. Schneider is the author of three books of poetry: Borderlines: Drawing Border Lives (Wings Press, 2012), a collaborative effort with his wife, Reefka Schneider; Unexpected Guests (Blue Light Press, 2008); and Prairie Air Show (Hurakan Publications and Sandhills Press, 2000). Steven Schneider’s poetry has been widely anthologized and featured in American Life in PoetryPrairie SchoonerCritical QuarterlyThe Literary . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Judaism

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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