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Penny Perry









                                     for my grandfather




The old men in yarmulkes

sit at card tables, flimsy, unstable

in the wind.


After the wars, after the pogroms,

pinochle and borscht at noon.


Ocean and fog. The smell of fish

from the market. Synagogue steps

the color of salt.


Across town the bells of Saint Monica’s

chime the hour.


The old men remember village bells

at Easter how the bells sang

“Christ killers. Christ killers.”


How soon after Church bells

the Cossacks came.


The old men in yarmulkes still hear

the horses hooves

the hiss of houses on fire.


Salt from the ocean on their lips,

the old men in America,

stare at the sea,


hear the prayers of waves.







Penny Perry has been widely published as a poet, most recently in Lilith and the San Diego Poetry Annual. Her fiction has appeared in Redbook and California Quarterly. She was the first woman admitted to The American Film Institute screenwriting program, and a film based on her script, A Berkeley Christmas, aired on PBS.


A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee in both fiction and poetry, she was born and raised in Santa Monica, the setting for her first collection of poetry, Santa Monica Disposal & Salvage (Garden Oak Press, 2012), available at Amazon via CreateSpace.


KNOT Magazine Fall Issue 2014
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