When The Purple Gang walked
in and shot the deli up,
a bullet nicked my friend’s
mother-in-law in the knee.

Her new mink coat,
untouched, drooped
on the chair’s back.
Halfway to the hospital,

she insisted on returning,
stepping over bodies
for that coat. When my father
was small, he walked daily

to school. My grandmother
said, If our neighbors
offer you a ride,
don’t ever get in!

Brutal cold. Snow
storm—the neighbor’s chauffeur
lowered the window,
offered little Marv a ride—

No thanks! The cold’s
, he lied. The very
next week, the back of
that house next door blew off…


In Ukraine, my dad’s father
stooped in the attic,
Cossacks below demanding his brother
hand over his heirloom gold watch.

Useless, that watch, as time
stood still, my grandfather crouched,
hearing a cry, thump,
feeling his small space quake.

Cindy Frenkel’s The Plague of the Tender-Hearted was recently released from Finishing Line Press. She served as a Writer-in-Residence with InsideOut Literary Arts Project (iO), which brings working poets into Detroit public schools; her essaySharing Voices, Acting Crazy is in the anthology To Light a Fire. Her writing has appeared in numerous places from Vanity Fair to WIRED online to The New York Observer, where she was a columnist. For more, please visit www.cindyfrenkel.com.