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poetry Emma Goldman’s Ice Cream Parlor

Poet-Teacher Susan Gubernat brings the life—and passion --of Emma Goldman into the 21st Century.

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Emma Goldman’s Ice Cream Parlor

By Susan Gubernat

Ephemeral as ice cream, that store

in Worcester where she wore

a starched apron maybe and scooped

chocolate, vanilla for the duped

workers of Worcester, while

the rest of the radical world—idle,

yet eager, discontented, had no

idea of how to revolt.

And then she cashiered the spoon,

started humming the tune

of The Internationale. Plotted

the death of Frick, besotted

with his own wealth. Riots

would follow. When left and right

disowned her there were years

of exile, exile without tears

because of Russia, then Spain.

Revolution, again and again

while the only emperor seemed

the emperor of ice cream.

(And what of her legacy

in this, the next century?

Could it be now the rich will fall

and the rest of us will have it all

with a cherry on top?)

Susan Gubernat’s second full poetry collection, The Zoo at Night, won the Prairie Schooner book award and was published by the University of Nebraska Press. Her first book of poems, Flesh, won the Marianne Moore Prize and was published by Helicon Nine Editions. Her poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, Crab Orchard Review, Gargoyle,  Michigan   Quarterly, The Pinch, Prairie Schooner, and Pleiades, among  others.  She wrote the libretto for Adam Silverman’s three-act opera Korczak’s Orphans, which has been performed in a number of venues, including at the VOX: New American Composers series of the NY City Opera and by the Opera Company of Brooklyn. She is Professor Emerita of English at California State University, East Bay.