Every ten years your number comes up.
I got my Guggenheim in 1974, so my number
Is 4. The first time in 2004 and then again
In 2014 I was invited to a Guggenheim
Party. New Guggenheims were given out
And old fellows were invited to attend.
Joyce Carol Oates was there with her
Husband. My former husband had
Written our budget for going to London
Which Is how I found out I had won. I told
Jonathan Baumbach in our shared office
At Brooklyn College that my husband
Embarrassingly had listed toilet paper
As an expense and Jonathan said that means
You’ve won. “If they ask you for a budget
You’ve won.” It was my first time applying.
“I applied eleven times and never got it,”
He said. I felt sorry for him when Noah
Baumbach vilified him in his film; then my
Daughter in her novel did the same thing
To me. A man died that night of a heart attack.
He was taken away quietly in an ambulance.
I asked but never learned the details.
The views are astounding. From
Edward Hirsch’s office you can see
All the tall buildings of heaven on earth,
You are at the height of immortals
Wearing olive branches in their hair.
You try to network; I’m not good at it.
A handsome poet who was a doctor
From Palestine came from California
Where he lived now to get his award.
“You’re Jewish, aren’t you?” he said.
“Yes,” I said. “I knew it,” he remarked
With a hatred like a drawn sword
I had never experienced before.
“They took my family’s house away.”
This was before Hamas beheaded
Babies, burned them in their cribs,
Bound whole hugging families with
Steel and burned them alive, before
Women were raped then tortured
On command: do anything you want
And I saw one on television over and
Over pulled by the hair her sweat
Pants stained with blood on her behind
As she was shoved into a car to be killed.
The butchery of 2023. In 2024 I will
Go back again, to those spectacular heights
If the building is still standing, if I am.
Surrounded by friends waving Hamas flags
The sink is full of dishes because the dishwasher
Flooded the kitchen, the repairman didn’t come
From 8 to 12. Chicken Little, the sky is falling, the
Sky is falling. The President is chicken. Winken,
Blinken, and Nod. Some kitchen towels look like
Keffiyeh. You must wear one to be safe.
Jill Hoffman is the founding editor of Mudfish and Box Turtle Press. She has just published her second novel, Stoned, Mudfish Fiction Series #1. Jilted was published by Simon and Schuster in 1993. The Gates of Pearl, her most recent book of poetry, is #11 of the Mudfish Individual Poet Series. She is also a painter.