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Purim, Spring Festival: How to Escape Massacres

Nomi Stone



Today, to celebrate not

being annihilated long ago, we

eat curly pastries shaped


like the persecutor’s ears. Then, we hang and

burn him: dig a great pit and nail two great planks.

The paper doll stands for the man and how foolish


his face! His down-turned mustache,

the pointing nose, the ugly lips we drew

for him! How unlike our own


faces. Haman is his name, and next to him

his wife will dangle and 10 children, all

criminals, or at least they would grow


to be criminals, so we better take care of them

now. Trade plates of cakes, children. Eat.

Run. Breathe. Continue being alive, meaning,


as they teach you, exact your revenge.







The above poem is an excerpt from Stranger's Notebook by Nomi Stone (Northwestern University Press, 2008). Please visit for more details.


Nomi Stone's first book of poems chronicles her time living in one of the last cohesive Jewish communities in North Africa. She has a Masters in Middle Eastern Studies from Oxford University, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Creative Writing in Tunisia. Stone is currently a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at Columbia University. She has received poetry fellowships and grants from the Vermont Studio Center and the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities.


A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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