Schwartzie by Wayne F. Burke

I threw him a pass and
the ball hit him
in the head
he could not catch
all he could do was shoot
he’d spent his life on the court
his father had built in their backyard
the only Jew
on the team
I asked him how he liked his gefilte fish
and he did not like that
or me;
during practice I blocked his
layups because
he could not jump
just shoot
all he could do
shoot the eyes out,
when we played an all-black school
he played like a pro
a master of the shvatzers
but against the goyim
he did not have it
tended to choke
and everyone wondered why
I said because he was a Jew
and Jews were no good
I knew
my grandmother had told me so.

Wayne F. Burke’s poetry has appeared in a variety of publications (including “In Between Hangovers”). His three published poetry collections, all from Bareback Press, are WORDS THAT BURN, DICKHEAD, and KNUCKLE SANDWICHES. His chapbook PADDY WAGON is published by Epic Rites Press. He lives in Vermont.

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