Nameless By Beth Sherman


I am the cook who works 16 hour days
but is always, always hungry. I am a
cardboard box growing soggy in the rain,
bigger than a table but too small for
shelter. I am lacquered nails, shiny and
glistening, painted by women whose
faces no one remembers. I am statistics in
newspapers – percentages of bodies,
multiplying exponentially, lousy Math. I am
anonymous fingers sewing buttons
on shirts in a series of airless rooms. I am my
great-grandfather, who arrived here
penniless from Poland, selling knives off the back
of a cart on the Lower East Side.
I am the voice at the door saying, “Come with
us now. Don’t make a scene. Do as
you’re told and no one will get hurt.” I am bodies
stacked by the side of the road,
shot in the head, gutted, maimed, set on fire, reasons
to flee. I am the visa that is just
out of reach, like a prize in a booth at the Jersey
Shore – the claw descends and picks
up the wrong object. I am hidden in the shadows
of your garden, behind the gray
poplar, my face turned away, the air busy with leaves.
I am responsible for job
losses and crime and even terrorism
or so they say. I am children waking up
scared each morning. I am the siren two
blocks over, gaining on you fast, that
thin high scream.

By Beth Sherman


I received an MFA in creative writing from Queens College, where I teach in the English department. My poetry has been published in Hartskill Review, Lime Hawk, Synecdoche, Gyroscope Review, The Evansville Review, Rust + Moth, Silver Birch Press, Zingara and Blue River Review and is forthcoming in Calamus Journal. I am a Pushcart Prize nominee and have written five mystery novels. @bsherm36

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