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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 6

Good Jewish Boys

Good Jewish boys don’t shoot heroin,
or so I believed until meeting Steve Cohen,
who roomed with a friend of mine
across the courtyard from my apartment.

I was visiting Terry, when Steve entered,
and slammed his door so hard it sprang open:
a bolting mustang panicked
by the cold steel bit for the first time.

We couldn’t help but see him take out his works
and the little bag, wrap the tube around his arm
as if laying tefilin, as we were taught in cheder—
Hebrew School—winding the black strap around

our forearms, and centering the scroll box with
“Hear O Israel, the Lord Our God, the Lord is one,”
on our foreheads, then putting on the silk prayer shawl
and opening the Mazor, the prayer book, to daven.

For Steve there was almost the same reverence
for that rubber tube that would expose a good vein:
his entry fee to Paradise or at least the oblivion
of the needle, his one prayer answered.

  Robert Cooperman