Fall/Winter 2013

Jonathan Cohen


This town is America:
this town just north of Columbus
this town with its river and its railroad and its fifty churches
this town founded in 1808
this town that looks like a thousand other small towns
this town is America:
this town whose poor folks live on the east side
of the river, and black folks close to the tracks
on the south side of the tracks
this town marching in its Memorial Day Parade
this town of long white faces and blue eyes
this town is America:
this town that works hard all week
this town wearing overalls and a dusty farmer’s hat
this town in a shirt and tie
this town staring out the window of the beauty parlor
this town scrubbing floors and cooking dinner and doing dishes
this town that just lost its job at Grumman
this town where a Democrat is a radical
this town chewing tobacco
this town that meets on Main Street
with its pickup trucks and sports cars and SUV’s
this town that rolls up the streets after dark
this town lined with old elm trees
this town is America:
this town under a moon of blue limestone
this town where tomorrow is yesterday, and yesterday forgotten
this town is America:
this town that offers you its hand
this town where runaway slaves found their way to freedom
this town without muggers
this town that reads the Bible each and every Sunday
this town striving after wind
in the very heart
of Ohio.

Jonathan Cohen is a poet, translator, essayist, and scholar of inter-American literature. His work has appeared in MultiCultural Review, The New York Times, American Poetry Review, The Nation, The American Voice, New Directions in Prose and Poetry, Words Without Borders, Street Magazine, and City Lights Review. For more information, please visit his website at www.jonathancohenweb.com.



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