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Weekly Poem: ‘Fear and Greed Index:’

By Daniel Khalastchi

We are rushed
from our dinner. Men
with axes tear down

a wall near the kitchen
and a line is formed out-
side to give names and

brief statements. What
did you see? I saw red
dresses on women saw hands

under tables. What
did you hear? Two chefs
in a fight. Were you aware

a child was being held
behind the drywall? Yes. Be-
tween courses I would

go to make phone calls — watch
her fed through cracks
in the baseboards, pushing back

bags of gray
stool and dark
urine. Why didn’t you

say anything? Who would
believe me? My eyes have
been nested. Robins and

grackles weave wheat to
my lashes and twice
a week I find eggs

in my leg. In your
leg? It opens like
a pinata. Always at

noon. I twitch and I
cramp and my tibia
folds with a hinge

to my ankle. When it happens,
teenagers from my apartment
complex wait in the courtyard

with waxed twine and
buckets for a neighbor
to wash off the

sinew. We’re sorry
sir, we thought this was
a costume.


Daniel Khalastchi is a first-generation Iraqi Jewish American and was born and raised in Iowa. His book, ‘Manoleria,’ won the Tupelo Press/Crazyhorse First Book Prize earlier this year. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recent fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Khalastchi is a visiting assistant professor of English at Marquette University. He also co-edits Rescue Press.

The video above was filmed at AWP’s 2011 Conference & Bookfair in Washington, D.C. Special thanks to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

Camera and audio work by the NewsHour’s Crispin Lopez and Kiran Moodley.

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