Poetry
12.1 / FALL / WINTER 2016

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE

between a Jew
and a pizza?” and it’s not the punch-
line but the lock of eyes that dare
me not to choose White over Kike. A word
I didn’t learn until eleven and something more
I still haven’t. Like why he would want to
call me something so lost and whitewashed or
why I felt lost without a birthmark
bootprint stamped in my psyche. Or
why I ran my hands over the word again and
again like a shiny scar, a new type of skin
or a curio smuggled from grandfather’s attic. Or
why I shared it with little boys who turn anything
into toys for games with rules from a house I wasn’t raised in. Or
the holy fire when they lifted the lid, the righteousness
that filled my hands with a plague of fists
to visit upon the face of the one I chased who screamed
from the excitement of the game, “It
means circle! It means circle!” Like I was some kind of stupid to
believe the unbelievable. Or
whose hands held me down, a White
supreme that gripped my bones and shook the abraham out,
took my hand to the knife of its joke. I take it. I have
sacrifices to make. It wants me to cut out this Kike
growing in me. It whispers in me how we did it
to ourselves, the American Jews who took the Yiddish
kikel against illiterate immigrants who couldn’t sign
more than a circle. It’s an old game. The score
forgotten. Everyone knows who’s winning.

Dylan Bargteil is a writer, performer, and musician from central Maryland. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he hosts a salon series called Worped in his friends’ apartment.


12.1 / FALL / WINTER 2016

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