Two Poems

by Galina Itskovich

Coming of Age

But if you must go
to avoid self-induced death
by suffocation, boredom or something else;
to see the newborn panda in its home

or undertake some other chock full of adrenaline venture; to hit the road
before the holiday traffic;
to have your son live longer than your father;
to escape the tenderness of another birthday;
to let the morbidity brew without you, not within;
to tend to your Hep. C-d or H.piloried innards;
to escape the clock’s leaking sounds-
don’t hesitate. Go now.
Escape the crazy plight of Michelangelos

chiseling away the outer kids
to uncover the inner soldiers.
You’ve crossed over to the other side of age,
stepped over something fragile yet still clinging to your feet
like the foliage,
like failure.
Free yourself from the embrace of time;
bring some rouge to your cheeks with the homemade remedy of pinches.
You remember where the door used to be
in the place that you should’ve liked better,

in that place you once called yours.

Herr Dorfner

Herr Dorfner’s shift is yet to start. He,
in the window seat, performs his daily sway –
through the beads
of towns
strung together by rails,
with the predictable spikes of kirche.
Four generations of Dorfners,
he proudly states,
worked for the state.
The Staat. The Reich.

He’s up by 4:00-ouch,-
out the door
by five-thirty. None of his elders
would be ashamed
of his ardor. To date, he was never late.

Shift’s a shift.
The bluishness of his uniform
beats the color of the morning sky.
His family’s uniforms usually do

beat the sky.
Uniforms don’t go out of style-
uniforms make the country.
He’s certain of that.
If he is to sway,
it’s not to the left.
If he is to embarrass himself and sleep
on a train, he sleeps on
his right side,
always facing the direction of a road
He gets off at Freising.
Two Dorfners ago,
Grandpa used to get off at Dachau
at this very time.

Shift’s a shift.
Dorfner is ready to clean.
It’s upsetting, though,
that his Grandpa
had cleaned so much out
but the country was neither satisfied
nor proud

of his work record.
As the limits of tolerance are pushed,
it doesn’t get cleaner.
In fact, Dorfner’s been punished
by cleaning the new stuff,

by closing the demographic

and generational gap:
doner and Subway wrappers,
condoms and needles
off the floor of the airport bathrooms.

05/0 8/ 2012

Galina Itskovich is Russian American who was born in Ukraine. She lives in New York City with her family and an aging dog and has practiced psychotherapy for more than two decades. Her work in English appeared in Poetica, Asian Signature, Unlikely Stories, Cardinal Points. A short story was included in the collection “Contemporary Jewish Writing” (2015). In 2017, She was shortlisted in the Open Eurasia contest.  Galina Itskovich also have multiple publications in Russian language journals and almanacs. 

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