Spring 2001


Robert Klein Engler


The wounds of childhood open at the same time Professor Hastings is seized by words and the aura they bring. When he was a boy he would read Wordsworth while taking the train to school. Now, on his veteran ride to suburbia, he dreams his book will become a sun and all his enemies assume their station around it like planets, or at the very least, he embarrasses them, so that they suffer a fatal blush. He thinks, too, of the hustler he knows, thin and smooth as a coin. Jonah brings men back to his apartment that butts against the La for money and sex, while his roommate keeps watch from the other bedroom. Some young men have such courage, but hardly ever find the courage to be kind. Jonah always looks up at the ceiling, as the lips of warm surf undulate with his silent tongue of contempt. The voice of his mother rings in his ears, You are poisoning my family. Go away! This is why he left home. How the spoor of compromise grows in us, to middle age, and then we get fat and cannot even clip our toenails without gasping for breath. This is why men with books seek out Jonah's body. Afterwards, the dollar bills unfold like the lap of the lake against the shores of autumn. A hum of fans moves the humid air of the city from one room to another. Our civil war between justice and virtue wages on. Outside, wheels bleed a steel kiss as
they bend to meet the curve.

Robert Klein Engler lives in Chicago and New Orleans. He holds degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana and The University of Chicago Divinity School. He was a department chair for many years at the City Colleges of Chicago. He now teaches at Roosevelt University. His poems and stories have appeared in Borderlands, Hyphen, Christopher Street, The James White Review, American Letters and Commentary, Kansas Quarterly, and many other magazines and journals. He was the recipient of Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards for his poem Flower Festival at Genzano, which appeared in Whetstone and Three Poems for Kabbalah, which appeared in Fish Stories, II.




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