This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features an excerpt from Embraces the carrion by Yanara Friedland, poems written while walking along several borders in Europe. 

Embraces the carrion


I was born a German.  I was born a Jew woman.  I was born a name carried

across the ocean from ancient Egypt to the Amazon, enslaved.  I was born a

rife thought, a creation myth. I was born a daughter, bald as a turtle. I was born

first poor then rich then poor then rich again. A ten feet aorta, a thievery. Or,

the creation of the world is a measured thought and past, present, future but

the children of time.


Cathar Country

The road as vocation, as first memory.
We speak about places we love
Mostly Portugal.

There are conditions. Barren snow from last year.
Limping through the forest again calling centuries of god in our knees.
You fix my backpack.
The rocks at an abandoned border station unspectacular.
We carry knives and run counter attack scenarios.
Once on the ground you have no chance, even with ten black belts.
In Istanbul, you say, they took the dogs from the streets
Brought them to islands.
Then they took down the oldest Roma neighborhood to build houses Byzantine style.
Then they called the city Cultural Capital of Europe.

We lay out our scars at noon.
For dinner sheep shoulder.
I fall in love with a woman.
A smell of radishes served on a shield.
When do you decide you will get there, regardless?



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