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Ivy Keeper

Grade: 12

Lakewood High School

Instructor: Dayna Hansen

American Husbandry

Poetry

American Husbandry

In the woods behind your house, there is the anticipation of dusk / It hangs on snapped branches / Watch it unfurl when the windows are closed / Watch yourself in the kitchen clearer when the space behind your window goes dark / your son's eyes shine like dogs / He learned to bite men's ankles / biting tree roots in the backyard / Throw him a bone to chew / Throw open the screen door and let him in / He'll drool a confession on the carpet in Bath or / down the sputtering bathtub drain / The living room carpet was ugly anyway / Will you turn the same green when you see the ugly things dogs bury? / Right in your living room / pulling up the carpet and find the roadside corpses / What an awful stench down there / when those bony fiddlesticks start to rot / What a horrid smell at the family home / when roadkill crawls back out of holes in the grass / A hole in the fence of the pen / He's slipped his way through the grate and now the drain smells / of vinegar / and soap / See him through the shutters / and shudder at the sight of teeth above the lip / Your car has stains in the backseat / but not the kind you'd hope for.


The Escape of Max Brod To Palestine, As Told By Franz Kafka

Short Story

The Escape of Max Brod To Palestine, As Told By Franz Kafka

Somewhere below the grinding spin of earth, the sun burns hotly. A fire is started in the hearth of a Praugian townhouse, expertly sheathed in the exact expectation of the passerby, and eats dutifully. I remain unangelically. Still beside my personalized erasure unwillingly, reflectively, eternally, illogically, as the last defence to a bureaucrat.

***

Max Brod is waiting as fast as he can. Snow is hesitant to powder the rails of a dim, underground station. The engine is hesitant to creep its way across them. His coat is hesitant to billow with smoke. The countdown of the station clock quickens towards red. In his briefcase is stuffed the hundred remaining papers used to line a coffin, thin as a satin folded into a frail body. I am reminded of my own nightgown, or the stained handkerchief of a country doctor.

On the platform, rats congregate in loopholes of passing shoes. Oil finds its way through stone rivets. Things leak up the steps to Praugian gutters and Brod is aware of this. His own home has been emptied by preference of his own hands rather than another's, and he has watched it become deconstructed to a few tightly packaged files. It saddens me to imagine him as he even has the backwards through to debate between my ramblings and a photograph of his mother, and saddens me further to know I had won. He watches himself now in the reflection of his shoes, a landscape in the black of a rotary phone, which sits on his office desk. It will sit there indefinitely.

Fifteen years ago I left a note in his office desk, a final vow, a resolution to ashes so that I may finally be at peace. He, in turn, demanded a sequestration. I would roll in my grave if I had the muscle.

***

As I accompany the last spits of the hearth, I am reminded of unpleasant memories of my father. I resolve to burn these too.

***

Max Brod has seen me exercise nude at night, before the front window of my house. And yet he still remained in the enge Prager Kreis, and alone in his confidantory. Since I am sure of his stubbornness, let my ramblings be a reluctant call from the grave, a final disappointment for him to relish in. He thinks of all of this as he fidgets with the band of his watch, overtime, and chastises me for my chronic doubt. The platform smells of wet smoke, spit on the cigar's end, or the friction of metal on metal. Through the fog choking the stone tunnel, the red light of an engine head creeps, squeaking, still, as the platform packs further, and as the night deepens, and as the echoing clank of hobnailed boots grows quick against Praugian stone: a bloodwound in the clotted vein of my country.

Finally, the last train arrives from its harrowing horizontal ascent, and opens. It will arrive in the Palenstine days from now, but the Nazis will close the Czech border in five minutes. Max Brod telephone-shined shoes leave the ground of Prague. A betrayal for the masses, as the Odradek is summoned in chruch.