November 27, 2017 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Peg Hunter photo



Emily Strauss





8 Ways to Build a Wall

The eight different models of President Trump’s promised wall will range from 18 to 30 feet tall

NYT 9/27/17




bricks are not enough

razor wire

thirty foot foundation

will help keep people




the desert is full

of mirages and mountains

sand dunes feel high

and imposing but not

tall enough



ragged tan cliffs

covered in cholla

beavertail, barrel

cactus destroy all




a river flows lazily

and wide, we could

suspend a mesh

barrier for fish

or beavers or men



divide the house,

the fields, roads will stop

the line visible

to anyone who cares

to step carefully



how should we notify

migrating Inca doves

they have crossed

empty sacred space

we dare not follow



bloody fur and feathers

will collect on top

hang like tree decorations

red lights blinking

golden star of death



a monument without names

of the dead, a blank ledger

of shame, hate of brown

red, yellow skin

against a pure white wall





A Pile of Shoes (NYT, 9/3/17)



outside the mosque in Kabul— old, dusty

broken at the heels where men slid into them

shuffled to the water fountain to throw water

on their faces before kneeling on worn carpets—


plastic Chinese sandals, sneakers, women’s

pumps, loafers, flats. After the suicide bomber

finished they were left behind, trivial remains

of 40 deaths, the others rushed out the back or


jumped out the windows barefoot, the shoes

left behind crushed and crumpled, blood

splattered, a few freshly polished for Friday

prayers. Some returned for their shoes later


some didn’t find theirs, some returned the ones

they took by accident, the local official said.

Five days later, they re-painted the walls white

shifted the pile aside, waited a few more days


before taking the rest to the garbage dump,

what else to do with shoes the dead can’t claim—

it’s impossible to wash the blood away

from the fresh graves in the yard beyond.






Emily Strauss

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 400 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and twice a Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.

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