Question mark meanders

like a curl of smoke ascending heavenward,

a supple supplicant, innocent yet insistent,

only to cool, drift sideways,

bend back under itself–

expectant and intrusive

its round, ripe belly

belies the truth

of what it holds–

then descending,

   a dagger







It was a simple question.

Is this your son’s coat?

But I answered an unasked question–

twisted, stained, bloody and ripped raw–

unmasking my horror and grief.


Years later, they stated it simply,

Joseph is still alive.

Standing among his gifts of wagons

and donkeys and food and riches

I added two words–My son–

forming a question that punctuated their tacit deceit–

a jagged gash

puncturing the tender trust between us.


by Alan Toltzis

Alan Toltzis is a strategic marketing consultant living in the Philadelphia area. One of his poems was published in Focus Midwest. He is writing a long series of poems that uses the Torah as a starting place.

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