National Poetry Month: Valerie Bandura

Here at Black Lawrence Press we are celebrating National Poetry Month with a poem a day, featuring a total of 30 authors from our list. Today’s featured poet is Valerie Bandura, author of Freak Show.
Two Weeks
That’s how much time they give you
to bribe the hall of records
for the paperwork you bribe the foreman to sign,
swearing that you know nothing
and owe nothing—no loans, no debts
before you bribe a woman to sell your pots and pans,
plates, plants, rugs, and record player, so you can
bribe a dentist and a doctor
to ensure you’re fit—for travel? for freedom?
Who knows, but if not, another bribe
—and another and another and another
before you ask a friend to ask a friend
to meet you for the last time
on a busy street corner where you say
that that moment is the last they’ll see you
because tomorrow you’re boarding a train
that lets Jews, and only Jews, leave
and, God willing, they’ll go next.
And you say this covering your mouth
so no one overhears, so no one
will arrest your friend for being friends
with someone like you, both of you
now holding hands or wiping a cheek
or petting the other’s hair.
Val PhotoValerie Bandura’s first collection of poems, Freak Show, was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2013. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, Alaska Quarterly, Third Coast, the Best New Poets anthology among others, and is forthcoming in ZYZZVA. She was awarded a residency from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the James Merrill Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. She teaches writing at Arizona State University.