Elana Friedland




Human-sized delivery tubes, bending robots, suicide phonebooths: New New York
was where my brother and I resided that summer, and not our Skokie homestead.

Hands down, the best voicemail I ever got was freshman year—my mother’s message:
Hi, honey! I got you new rainboots. And if your father’s found, he’ll be arrested.

She lives in an empty nest built not of branches but foreclosure’s cardboard boxes.
Far from the Great Lakes, the East Coast’s ivory towers become our roadstead.

A fast glance at Google Maps reveals that outside, the house’s siding remains slate.
Unseen, the walls are painted pastel yellow inside the room where I was molested.

While I lived inside my mother, Tzvi’s the dear name my parents crooned at me.
Surprised by my sex, they dubbed me just as unfamiliar: mine means tree instead.





Hear the snoring crowd of sleep apneatics
            gasping awake, the arguing out-of-work lawyers,
                        thudding and thundering
            as they make their out-of-shape way
to their seats. Among them,
           brother and I gape, eager eyed at
grand ringmaster dad
                         in his crushed velvet top hat,
             trapeze swinging highwire dadcrobats
                         and fat elephant dads sadly paraded
                                    corpse heavy hang
                                                elephant ears
                        led in slow circles,
                                                           Smell it:
                                                                                    dead dads.
                                                Feel the crunch
                                                                          of amputated toes
                                                and peanut shells, crushed.
Sit beneath the technicolor tent,
            a patchwork mix
                        of tighty-whities,
                                    black cotton socks
                                                and polo shirt pockets.
Hear the POP!
                        corn get your POP!
                                                           corn!/can I get
                                                                        a volunteer?
                                                                                     our dad, dragged
                                                           center ring
                                                                        heavy harlequin
                                                                                     made to dance
                                                                                                 for all the ladies aaaaand
                                                                      gentlemen! boys
                                                                                   aaaaand girls! children
                                                              of aaaaaaaaaaaalll ages! him chief among them
and for his efforts, they gave our old man
                                  a lolli
                                                            rainbow shellacked sugar
                                  and he gave it to us. Brother
                                  and I bite and bite
                                                            into either side
                                                            leaving only
                                                                         white plastic spine.


Elana Friedland is a poet and theatre artist. Originally from the Midwest, she currently lives in Boston. She will soon head to the University of Colorado at Boulder to pursue an MFA in poetry. Her writing has previously appeared in Broad! and the Jewish Journal.