A Poem by Alan Felsenthal


I was a victim of laughter.
They set the alphabet
like a river
into which the names of God
bound by letters

I was dumb
for they called me so.
I smelled
water and lime
when I searched
for love
and watched
smart men sign
their names in smoke
over the ovens of Niesse
the poorest women
burned inside.

When I woke centuries after
the oven still alive
I remembered my father
said the devil was no cloud
of black flies
but an educated man
who lived by two hands
that invented the devil
to give him human help.

The devil heard this
and cried
not out of sadness
but to try
something new.
I cried too
for now I knew
not what crying

Alan Felsenthal runs a small press called The Song Cave. With Ben Estes, he edited A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind: The Poems of Alfred Starr Hamilton. His writing has appeared in BOMB, The Brooklyn Rail, Critical Quarterly, Fence, jubilat, and Harper’s. Published by Ugly Duckling Presse, Lowly is his first collection of poems.

The Poetry Section is edited by Mark Bibbins.