Friday, March 12, 2021

new from above/ground press: buttons and bones, by Alexander Joseph

buttons & bones
Alexander Joseph

that same song sung from auschwitz to charlottesville
what am I without a people a land a knowhow a home

but an angry white boy in sweat damp sheets

dreaming of yellow ribbon tangled in curly hair

waking with ruined fruit on my new world tongue

what am I without the rain or blue sky
other than scared of what’s above or reflected
hiding in sawmilled pine or history of the camps
covering myself with the names and color they gave us

what I am but flat footed and complicit
a conqueror clinging to a conquered past

no necklace or history to show my pride 
no native language to detail the dirt
no bread to break nowhere to go back to

but in my dreams I walk with grandfather to town

published in Ottawa by above/ground press
March 2021
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy

cover artwork: Jaiden Dokken

Alexander Joseph is a Jewish-American, twenty-six-year-old writer. It is said in the Talmud that there are three ways to be a good Jew: study, prayer and acts of loving kindness – Alexander thinks of his writing and work as an educator as a mix of all three. His fiction has been published in the anthology Stories That Need to be Told by Tulip Tree Press, as well as in Lotus Eater Magazine, Bombay Gin and Clover: A Literary Rag. Alexander has received four honorable mentions in various Glimmer Train Magazine Short Story and New Writer contests, has been shortlisted multiple times for the Faulkner Awards, and was a finalist for the 2020 Orison Fiction prize. His essays have been published in the Boulder Daily Camera and his poetry has been published in Boomer Lit Mag and BlazeVox Magazine. He has an MFA from Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School, where he teaches creative writing. He hosts the podcast American Wasteland, which has thousands of listeners and on which he reads his fiction, and he writes a weekly prose poetry column in The Mountain Ear Newspaper in Nederland, Colorado.

To order, send cheques (add $1 for postage; in US, add $2; outside North America, add $5) to: rob mclennan, 2423 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 7M9. E-transfer or PayPal at rob_mclennan (at) or the PayPal button at

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