cockroach negative


Poor K

As K stands before the (not Jewish) grave digger, for whose benefit the author worked in his professional capacity as a government legal, investigative and administrative agent with executive authority, brought into the government by a converted Christian who knew him to possess the brilliant and creative mind necessary for handling the newly dreamt-up responsibilities of the newly dreamt-up position to implement the newly dreamt-up liberal social policy in the newly dreamt-up agency that materially recognized (however inadequately) and recompensed (equally inadequately) the newly dreamt-up value of the body of the injured-on-the-job laborer — the only (unrepentent though unobservant) Jew in the government agency, responsible for forcing employers to pay the new-fangled “tax” called “workers compensation” (in those cases wherein he could prove the claim) plus penalties; feeling a little like the narrator standing before the grave this nameless Czech laborer is digging for him, which K suddenly realizes is indeed for him, as he sees not the letter K being carved into the headstone but the letter J, the letter precedent in the alphabet to K, as J-for-Jew precedes K-for-Kafka, and despite any plea to the contrary, J strips K, subsumed under the sign of the other, of his personhood, this J, this self-generating, unarguable sign, with its built-in affective alarm established by a rising storm of anti-Semitic violence in Mittel Europa, represented by a proleptic headstone with the letter J; poor K.


About the Author: An Oakland native, BA & MA in Creative Writing, SFSU, Allan Tinker taught writing at UC Berkeley, then through California Poets in the Schools and The Beat Within, while raising two remarkable children with civil rights lawyer wife, Arlene Mayerson.

Artwork: Brad Milhouse