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  • Inheritance, and: Arriving in Canada, and: Language Loosened Back, and: The Motel Clerk Gets Bad Reception of Cleveland 100.7 FM, and: Dead Language, and: Song of the Dead Office, and: Greetings from the End of the Line
  • Allison Pitinii Davis (bio)
  • Inheritance
  • Allison Pitinii Davis (bio)

Whatever he did is characterized by meticulously fine and painstaking craftsmanship. . . . In the care and precision of his lines, people and objects retain their own lives.

—Harvey Shapiro on the poet Charles Reznikoff

1. Reznikoff’s parents made hats. His lines are tight as his parents’ stitching: word-word-word-word-word. Lines to cover a head on a freezing day.

2. My mother is a bookkeeper, my father is an innkeeper. I’m a keeper of a language that won’t register under its name.

3. Reznikoff’s mother moved to America and had a son. She wanted to name him Ezekiel after her father. The doctor said, “Call him Charlie, he’ll be grateful.”

4. When the thread unravels, run it between your lips. When there isn’t thread, invent separation. Double knot the end of every truth.

5. Between being horseman in czarist Russia and trading horses in Chicago, a Jew stopped in England and grabbed a new name quickly as a jacket that we keep handing down to inherit the sweat. [End Page 85]

Allison Pitinii Davis

Allison Pitinii Davis is a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her work is forthcoming in Crazyhorse and The Best American Poetry 2016. She holds an MFA from Ohio State University and fellowships from Stanford University’s Wallace Stegner program and the Severinghaus Beck Fund for Study at Vilnius Yiddish Institute. She is the author of Poppy Seeds (KSU Press, 2013), winner of the Wick Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her full-length collection, Line Study of a Motel Clerk, is forthcoming from Baobab Press in 2017.

Photo by Ian Lanzillotti

  • Arriving in CanadaDubrova, Poland–Montréal, Canada
  • Allison Pitinii Davis (bio)

When she was a young girl in Yiddish Quebec with her eyes fixed simply through snowfall

when her mother bore through sweatshop days like fortress doorways

when, singing like nothing

the maple leafour emblem dearthe maple leafforever

when, the branches full of brown birds [End Page 86]

Allison Pitinii Davis

Allison Pitinii Davis is a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her work is forthcoming in Crazyhorse and The Best American Poetry 2016. She holds an MFA from Ohio State University and fellowships from Stanford University’s Wallace Stegner program and the Severinghaus Beck Fund for Study at Vilnius Yiddish Institute. She is the author of Poppy Seeds (KSU Press, 2013), winner of the Wick Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her full-length collection, Line Study of a Motel Clerk, is forthcoming from Baobab Press in 2017.

Photo by Ian Lanzillotti

  • Language Loosened Back
  • Allison Pitinii Davis (bio)

My father swished and spit soap until his father   heard the language flow deep in Youngstown’s sewers.     Conditioning. My years of speech therapy, my father’s—a star for every R. When we visited Montréal,   his grandmother served fish while asking who I was     in a foreign language. She slid the fish toward me, eye-first. I retreated. One theory about why   The Guard shot at Kent is not “students threw rocks” but     some “co-eds called guards motherfucking cocksuckers.” After such language, why separate women from men,   student from felon? A decade earlier, Lenny Bruce yelled cocksucker     until he was acquitted, until the word didn’t separate, until oil and water got along. I just want to get along,   so why’d I tell my father to stick his ballot up my cunt?     My therapist said I yell at him because he only takes me seriously when I yell. Yell too much, you lose   your voice. Bobby Seale was bound and gagged     at the Chicago Seven trial, his lips separated around a cloth. Abbie Hoffman screamed “a shande   fur de Goyim!” at Judge Hoffman, using Yiddish     because they reached the dead end of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 85-91
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-20
Open Access
No
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