German Lessons by Jen Karetnick


To be the gross definition

of schadenfreude is destiny

once we’re set on the refugee

path: one foot sand, one foot ocean.


We tell yourselves: Wir schaffen das.

We can do this. Accents varied

as kelp, the littoral seaweed

from the order fucales


Smart phones programmed with the same false

assurances, digits gone dead

in hands crossed with green and gold

to ensure we end up pure gas.


To be the gross definition

of schadenfreude is destiny.


This is how all of Europe laughs—

with closures that are fremdschämen

to new generation Germans

who still check our Facebook status

and our Instagram connections,

the technology in motion

a much truer indication

of a past that doesn’t erase.


Once we’re set on the refugee

path, one foot’s sand, one foot’s ocean.



Jen Karetnick is the author of seven poetry collections, including The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize. The winner of the 2017 Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest, the 2016 Romeo Lemay Poetry Prize and the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, she has had work nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and two “Best of the Net” awards. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in, Crab Orchard Review, Cutthroat, Guernica, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Missouri Review, Negative Capability, One, Painted Bride Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Prime Number Magazine, Spillway, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily and Waxwing. She is co-founder/co-curator of the not-for-profit organization, SWWIM (Supporting Women Writers in Miami), and co-editor of SWWIM Every Day.