Iowa Writes

"Beit Shemesh"

           Groups of Ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters have been
           picketing a new girls' school. They say their religious
           sense of modesty is offended by the sight of   the girls . . .

Sluts, they protest, as if
the girls are monsters
with serpents' tails, don't
wear sleeves up to a fist's

length. Collarbones showing.
Tramps, they say, with stones
in their hands. The men
buy homburg hats

with welfare checks.
The girls wear skirts
that rise to the knees. Tarts,
they say, with eggs

in their pockets, shell
kept by the silk lining
from breaking. The men
spend the 9-to-5 thinking scripture,

tasting the broh
of the purchase gained from prayer.
Are they out there?
a girl asks. Her hand a microcosm

of a hand. The bearded men moan
as if calling out the name
of a son. The men, mouths
open, almost sing.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Kenny Tanemura is a graduate of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Purdue University.

"Beit Shemesh," along with two other poems by Tanemura, is included in the Spring 2013 issue of The Iowa Review.

This page was first displayed
on June 03, 2013

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