The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Rob Cook

Response to a Minute That Passed in Kindergarten Riefenstahl




Klara doesn’t remember me.


Klara’s eyes half-remember me.


Klara doesn’t remember me, my lincoln log legs, my soldier shoes.


Klara’s face, her legs, running, remember me.



The unchristened page does not ask: Who is the angel of ash named Klara?


The page of anonymous mulch asks: In what acorn home has Klara’s beauty comforted us

during the Indian summers of the life station?


What have her kindergarten eye-glasses (adults now) left behind us?



The lavatory nurse demonstrates to the children the way she stood and stood and stood.


Klara, with no real surname, still standing

Klara, sick with a hell-carrying child, still alert if not intact

Klara, still capable of being remembered


A robin spells her name wrong between the leaves (the doctors’ days) of the tree she

remembers, and the insect mash (spilled soup) of the tree she tried to taste


(slower this time,

with graham cracker nieces)


(slower this time,

with discoveries at the grieving level

of the dress she wears)



Hatchet summer. Scalp winter.


Bus stop cancer,

the lunch box shelters lined up in the morning thaw.


The temperature of that unnamed war she recalls.




A mu-shu-child

scarred with corduroy

huddles in a chimney’s footage

of bird silence.


            (One bird chimney equals an entire flock of silence)


            (A birthday passes, erotically close)


            (The child doesn’t reach beyond the hunger pangs in his corner of the oven)



A Schiklgruber protects

its afterschool detention wardens

on paper as it dies.


            (All the powerful paper is dead)


Zian means happiness in sonderkommando.


            (The meaning doesn’t reach beyond the ovens

            huddled in the corners of each child)


            Surviving as food,

            a girl, marked with Chinese wood whiskers,

            pushes her ink-tall carnage

            two shadow inches to the edge of the screen

            where the informers assemble,

            in the mid-conscious winter.



The violin-legged minutes

can be seen as they pass


into march-time, into march-time, into march-time.




ROB COOK is a 20-time Pushcart reject trapped in the East Village where he sees way too many attractive people. His most recent book is Last Window in the Punk Hotel (Rain Mountain Press, 2016). Recent/ancient work appears in Under a Warm Green Linden, Sweet, Across the Margin, Epiphany, Verse, The Laurel Review, Chattahoochee Review, Midwestern Gothic, Thrice Fiction, The Antioch Review, etc. He is currently working on an as-yet untitled novella.



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