The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Jeff Friedman



A man and a woman make love to have a baby. Instead the woman gives birth to a spot. “He’s our first born,” the man says and names the spot Adam. “Let’s try again,” the woman says, “I want a daughter not a spot.” But the man is adamant that they should raise their spot first and then think about having a daughter. He feeds the spot whatever it’ll eat, and soon the spot begins eating everything. “Now he’s eaten my blue dress,” the woman says, “and my diamond necklace.” The spot denies it. “He’s turned blue and his insides glint and glitter,” she claims. “You can’t blame him,” the father says, “He’s growing so fast, and he’s hungry.” One day, the father has to go out. “Be good,” he says to the spot and then shuts the door gently. The wife grabs her cleaning fluids and brushes and begins scrubbing the spot, which is now the size of the kitchen. She pours bleach on it and cleanser. Though the spot loses some of its luster, it won’t disappear or go away. Exhausted, she throws her brushes into the metal pail. When the man returns, he hugs the woman and kisses the spot. He notices that the blue has faded and that the margins of the spot are not as clear. “What has she done to you?” he asks. The spot refuses to lay the blame on the woman. The father again demands to know what has happened, and the spot swallows him. Now the spot has a healthy glow. “Are we good,” the spot asks. The woman nods, but still wants a daughter.




JEFF FRIEDMAN's seventh book—a selection of prose poems, fables and mini tales—is forthcoming from Plume Editions (with Madhat Press). His poems, mini stories and translations have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, New England Review, The Antioch Review, Poetry International, Plume, Hotel Amerika, Flash Fiction Funny, Agni Online, The New Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish Poets, New Flash Fiction Review, The New Republic and numerous other literary magazines.  Dzvinia Orlowsky’s and his translation of Memorials by Polish Poet Mieczslaw Jastrun was published by Lavender Ink/Dialogos in August 2014. Friedman and Orlowsky were awarded an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship for 2016. Nati Zohar and Friedman’s book of translations Two Gardens: Modern Hebrew Poems of the Bible, was recently published by Singing Bone Press.



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