A Literary Magazine in Support of the Jewish Community

Back to Issue Three


Four Poems by Deborah Bacharach

The Jewish Mathematicians

We all had lice back then

in our unwashed jacket pockets,

crawling along the stained seams

of our handsewn shirts and basted

buttonholes as we lectured

on combinatorics at the University of Lviv

before it was shut down by Nazis.


The Nazis hired Dr. Weigle.

Dr. Weigle hired us who used to sit

quiet, pencils scratching in the Polish coffee shops

(now closed or filled with Nazis)

to sit in his lab, caged lice on our legs.


If you didn't scratch, you wouldn't die,

that day. Mathematicians, we would

sink deep into the fourth dimension,

the one without hunger or fear, our daughters

still in pirouette. We would do what


we have always done since

Euclid, Pythagoras, Archimedes—

find a lever big enough,

prepare to move the world.


Norma’s Diary, 1921

My plan was want nothing, expect

nothing, be grateful.


Friends slip away, a



I am grateful for sugar

that threads the oatmeal.


                                          I don’t try

to sleep through the night.


Sometimes second cousins

move in.                No one

should ever expect their life back.


I wish I could be a good woman.

I wish I could be sleek Houdini,

                                                   a Jew

who can somehow slacken

                  the chains, escape.


I am grateful for               dawn.


There must be a sleight-of-hand I haven't

learned yet. I can't give birth again.

Offer here my secret


Lilith on a Red Bar Stool

I work with men.

In a truck with loose shocks

I drive outta town to shop,

so they can't charge

my boobs and hips

with trying to lure their dicks

while I stalk 'em through aisles

of Apple Jacks and Honey Smacks.

Yeah, my babies eat sugar.

I nametag their bars,

so they won't squabble over snacks.

There are so many better things to fight for.

I admit I never loved him,

but we lived stuck in that yellow sub, Eden.

After a while, he no longer tasted of blossoms,

ferocious first fruit.

He was London. I was Liverpool.

I'm not just a girl at the gun range;

I'm good with a gun.

Better than. Put your hand

on my leg, I laugh fire.

Judith, on the Way to Slay Holofernes

Yes, there is dust,

a chickadee in the remnants

of a thorn tree,

empty webs, broken webs I broke,

the howl of a monkey

without a friend, the howl

through wolf whistles and cat calls.

Yes, there will be

blood on my dress. I will be charged

with that task too.

Deborah Bacharach

Deborah Bacharach is the author of Shake & Tremor (Grayson Books, 2021) and After I Stop Lying (Cherry Grove Collections, 2015). Her poems, essays and book reviews have been published in journals nationally and internationally, including Midwest Quarterly, Poetry Ireland Review, Vallum, Cimarron Review, New Letters, and Poet Lore. She has received three Pushcart nominations and a Pushcart honorable mention. Educated at Swarthmore College and the University of Minnesota, Debby lives in Seattle with her family. She is a college writing instructor, editor, and tutor and teaches poetry workshops for children. Find out more about her at DeborahBacharach.com.


Deborah Bacharach
« 1 2 3 4 » Last