Honorary Jew

By John Repp John Repp
The first year, I grated potatoes, chopped onions
& watched. The second year, I fed all but the eggs

into the machine & said I'll do the latkes & did,
my pile of crisp delights borne to the feast by the wife

who baffled me, our books closed, banter hushed,   
money useless in the apartment—house, my in-laws called it,

new-wave thump at one end, ganja reek at the other—
in which she'd knelt to tell the no one who listened

no more no      no more no    a three-year-old mouthing
the essential prayer. The uncle made rich by a song

stacked three & dug in, talking critics & Koch—
everyone crunching now, slathering applesauce, slurping tea—

talking Rabin & Mehitabel, radio & Durrell,
how a song is a poem or it isn't a song

& vice-versa. Done, he pointed a greasy finger
at me, said You can't be a goy. You—I say it

for all to hear—are an honorary Jew!
which, impossible dream, my latkes lived up to

for five more years. Then the wailing.   
Then the dust.

Source: Poetry (October 2008).

 John  Repp

Biography

John Repp's recent collections of poetry include Gratitude (Cherry Grove, 2005), Fever (Mayapple Press, 2007), and No Away (Pudding House, 2007).

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Marriage & Companionship, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Activities, Eating & Drinking, Religion, Judaism

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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