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Dorothy Friedman August

An angel lived with a monster and a glance on the broken side of the world where all things are twisted. The angel was a saint in the same way the monster was a thug. And the glance wore an iron glove and looked out on the world of murderous acts. And if we look, we too can see big things gobbling up smaller ones, and that torment is not distinguished from pleasure.

It came to pass that the saint wanted to escape the monster but didn’t know how. So she went to A.A. meetings and asked, “Can you change me?” Twice a week she said prayers to a higher power. But instead of receiving an answer she was abused at meetings and forced to say, “I am a victim of foreign and domestic abuse.” This kept her coming back, and the iron glove traveled with her.

Until one day a snail appeared in the glove. When we weren’t looking she’d turned into a snail and in a muffled voice from deep inside the glove repeated, “Can you change me?” This only made the fist tighten its grip on the snail angel more. Then it carried her to a faraway land under the sea.

When the monster noticed she was gone he came looking for her because he missed the way she made scrambled eggs. A small light then appeared and showed how angel, thug, and glance had once lived together in a land before Freud, Proust and Marx.How gracefully her wings carried her then. Now she was doomed to be a snail and live under the sea. She’d wanted to escape her life and she did by disappearing into a world where there was no conflict or pain.

But she missed the thug, so she invented various predatory fish, including the shark. This way she was able to watch the violence below duplicate the violence above. And so she dwelled as snail and angel, amusing herself with her own gang of thugs, waiting for the monster to find her.

Dorothy Friedman August is a widely published, award-winning poet who has published three books of poetry, including Family Album and The Liberty Years. A fourth book, L Shaped Room, is forthcoming from Poets Wear Prada. She has won two New York Foundation of the Arts fellowships and published poetry in Partisan Review, The California Quarterly, The Centennial Review, Hanging Loose, Mudfish, Ms., Tribes Issue #12, Ikkon Double Anthology, and Spiny Babble. She was poetry editor of Downtown for ten years and has published articles, art reviews, and a memoir, most recently "The Bastard Heirs" in History of Jews of the Lower East Side.


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