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Pepek the Assassin
by Joyce Ellen Davis
(pub. 2011)

Pepek the Assassin Reviews

"I would like to crawl inside Joyce Ellen Davis' mind. In Willy's House, she did exactly that with her great grandfather. With subtle energy and clean poetic choices she told a raw touching story which buried itself inside readers' hearts. Now that highly creative, scientific mind gives us an 'uncle', Pepek the Assassin, whom the reader forgets is an invention: he and the other characters in his world are surprising, compelling, utterly real. And then Davis does it again, switching, in Telling Who Passed By, to an introspective examination of a woman's life, every poem distinguished from the one before; each, startling; the whole, unburdened by naivete. I don't think Pepek or these rare ruminations could have been born in anyone else's mind."

Marilyn Bushman-Carlton, author of keeping things small, Cheat Grass, Her Side of It


2.

Pepek, my uncle
The assassin,
Has but one eye. He likes
To imagine that the other
Is in a museum in Okres Krupina,
Banska Bystrika,
By the River Krupinica,
Skewered on the point
Of a German policeman's bayonet
Like a pearl onion on a shish-ka-bob.
The policeman, who was beating
His horse,
Swapped his life
For Pepek's eye, a poor trade.

Now at 5 A.M.
Horses still pull milkwagons through
The streets of Krupina,
While Pepek, my uncle,
Eats cold cereal flakes
In his kitchen in Connecticut,
Grows fat on raspberries and cream.

In the spring, Pepek digs for oysters,
Those jelly-kisses from the sea.
He cracks their locked doors
With the hard points
Of his middle fingers,
And swallows them raw.
He wears a straw hat while he works,
Sweat pours into his shirtsleeves
Like seawater. He is frightened.
He is ashamed, and stares into the sun
Until his tears crawl out. His eye
Is a slit black as a flatiron
As he tries not to remember
How he once killed a policeman
For beating a horse.


(from Pepek the Assassin)

Pepek The Assassin

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