Issue 2.1

Winter 2022
Josh Image

Joshua
Gottlieb-Miller

Reflection

This poem 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.

MY GREAT-GRANDMOTHER COULD HAVE LANDED HERE

—at Galveston beach, Texas

I’m puzzled, most of all,
by my own                     {        } instance,
                                                   insistence—

As if my son won’t only ever
be himself. Looking at the Gulf he asks me,
“What’s the point of a mountain
you can’t climb?”

If not 100 blessings a day, say

          10 blessings, 1 blessing.

Add a           {                       }ladder                
                                               letter                
                                                          to a word in your mind.

I want to be rebuked by a G-d
who struggles with me.
“Keep shoveling,” Owen insists,
sand giving way to more sand.

Lauren has been teaching Owen to not kill            
plants, ants, bluebonnets. “Landscape                
is the friend to clarity,” my rabbi {                 }prays                                                                                  craves. 

They can’t all be opinions—
the winds and the waves,
sun under stone.

If not 100 blessings a day, say

          10 blessings, 1 blessing.

This is a weird place

to put things in perspective because

you can't get any distance from them.

A pelican soars by, its stilled wings outstretched.

We sit and look at the water.                                                               

Joshua Gottlieb-Miller holds an MFA and PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, where he has served as Gulf Coast's Digital Nonfiction Editor and Print Poetry Editor. Other poetry from this manuscript appears in Concision (issue 1.2), Berru Poetry Series, Jewish Currents, Poet Lore, and elsewhere. Recent prose and hybrid writing can be found in Pithead Chapel, miCRo, MAYDAY Magazine, Talking Writing, Pacifica Lit Review, and elsewhere. Joshua has been a Fellow at MacDowell and the Tent Writing Conference at the Yiddish Book Center. Currently Joshua lives in Houston with his wife, Lauren, and son, Owen.

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