The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2017

All Issues
NOV 2017 Issue











We count        


completion of             duties                                                                 you will be expected

All                         are expected to serve      


you must consider this                    
your primary employment                                                                                                  


                                                                                        Your signature
                                       your acceptance                            and     your status
at will






We know exactly when

the moon will pass again

between the sun and the earth

and again years from now

the details of totality

we know it will be

a narrow path across Earth

we know we will again be

older and wearing special glasses

bought from special places

to shield our eyes

the only way to really see

and how far west

we must go

in this country

I know my parents

drove us across

one summer these states

I knew they were teachers

that they were part

of the system

that there was this

thing called system

because it was a word

that they used often

and it meant something

about the way they were

allowed to love us

and each other

a whole summer long

to keep getting paid

I came to know the history

of this system

and some of the key

players who shaped it

a certain way

so that many years

from then

we could have mothers

and fathers who worked

or didn't work

or none to drive us

or dying

to drive us across

the contiguous states

with some money to pay

to look out at the world

from on top of horses

to say this is where

our ancestors stood

at the system coming

for them worse

than the seasons

I knew a great many things

by what state they were in

after work

still willing

the word system

and though they knew

a certain comfort there

they knew of other systems

in other places

and had studied

this system

its laws of motion

to know it was a certainty

the day would come here

they talked about it often

with their friends

from iran and panama

who were brought here

by the same system

also to study its malfunction

you come to know

when to look up

into space

in the future

for something

that comes only a few

times in a life

you come to know

how bad

and beautiful

can co-exist not forever

we know all of this

but we don't know when

the new system will come

neither the day

nor the year

when we will not need

to buy something else

to see and to be perhaps safer

to know it is there



Vanessa Jimenez Gabb

VANESSA JIMENEZ GABB is the author of Images for Radical Politics, which was the Editor's Choice in the 2015 Rescue Press Black Box Press Poetry Contest. She is from and lives in Brooklyn, NY.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2017

All Issues