Issue 1.2

Fall 2021
1.2 DK_edited.jpg

Joshua
Gottlieb-Miller

Reflection

"Have I always been suspicious of myself?" is from my manuscript Dybbuk Americana, which is, as I am, wrestling with Jewish identity in America, and what it means for my son to inherit that identity. Many of the poems in Dybbuk Americana are non-linear, animated by boxes of various size and placement containing an array of running commentary, lyric reveries, ironic doubts, counter-myths, found texts, oral history, and more, echoing literary heritages of Talmudic disputation and geniza. My poems seek out multiple meanings and interpretations just as I have tried to discover who I am, and learned that I don’t know everything about me.

Have I Always Been Suspicious of Myself?

The rainy day my parents married,

my father signed two contracts:

one with my mother,

the other with her rabbi.

Because they loved each other,

the first contract.

Because I was raised Jewish,

the second.

History moves this way,

backwards, precarious.

Not passing

but passed.

Almost writing to him about ‘your

Why did I ever think I

would know myself

like Talmud

when I don’t/know Talmud?

forebears’ instead of ‘our—'

My dad asking, “When were Swedes

considered white?”

What description isn’t

incomplete? I talk like him, I write

like him, I too

have what he calls his father’s

coldness. Pathologically

consistent, how unfair am I

to not be him,

after all? To regret he had

no real deep faith for me

to reject. All his life

he’s been a searcher.

Though I am

made beautiful by righteous

             anger, it means that from a distance

I give two names.

 

I’m selfish,

I am, I always have been.

Still there’s no consensus

about my highest point.

Who can blame me?

Last night I remarked to the snow

that it doesn’t need

the sky.

Joshua Got­tlieb-Miller received his PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Hous­ton. Poetry from Dybbuk Americana is forthcoming in Poet Lore, and found most recently in Berru Poetry Series, Jewish Currents, Miracle Monocle, and elsewhere. Writing from his hybrid grocery store manuscript The Art of Bagging can be found in MAYDAY, Talk­ing Writ­ing, Brook­lyn Rail, and elsewhere. Cur­rent­ly Joshua tutors for Hous­ton Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege, is a week­end desk atten­dant for the Menil Col­lec­tion, and teach­es a senior mem­oir work­shop for Inprint through the JCC.

Joshua's Book Recommendations

Tom Haviv, A Flag of No Nation.

Rosebud Ben-Oni, If This Is the Age We End Discovery. 

E.G. Asher, Natality.

Aviya Kushner, Wolf Lamb Bomb. 

Allison Pitinii Davis, Line Study of a Motel Clerk