by Esther Cohen


Like this

one of those villages

doesn’t much change

same kinds

of problems

what life looks like

how life

usually lived

families, real

messy, earning

some kind of living

or trying to.

Food each week

potatoes in ten pound bags

onions too all in the basement

if there is a basement

supermarket bread.

Weekenders New Yorkers

they carry bread in the car.

Some even take baking classes

They say there’s no

bread in upstate New York.

Coffee either.

Locals drink plenty of coffee.

Outside inside.

money college

absolute assumptions.

Amy Goodman

Rupert Murdoch

NPR and FOX.

Both sides

I know I’m right

What is education?

Firewood? Hannah Arendt?

Can we have both?

Self righteousness


of everyone

they each know

something big

something small

don’t tell one another

difference breeds anger

instead of curiosity

white sugar versus

agave as though

one is closer to truth.

Plumbers and architects.

Taste stands in for taste.

All just preference. Of course

There are facts. But facts

Aren’t Truth. Nearly everyone

thinks their preferences

significant. Me too.

I like old doors

better than Home Depot.

But I know

doors don’t matter much.

Even a little.

We all try.

Some of us grow old.

We go to supermarkets.

We buy milk and eggs.

Organic or not.

Some tell us each choice

a moral decision.


All our houses continue


Zucchini and tomatoes

every summer

If we are lucky.

How we

use them depends

on the books

we read. On the books

we don’t read.

On grandmothers. And

what we remember.

We try for pleasantries.

Hot. Cold. Rain is expected.

I heard a storm

Will come.

Not enough rain.

Maybe tomorrow

will be nicer. Years

of survivals. People

live here. People

who give this place

what life is. People

whose lives

whatever they are

are real stories


Esther Cohen‘s books include God Is a Tree and Don’t Mind Me and Other Jewish Lies. She is the Jewish Currents arts and public events consultant.