BRANDON MARLON is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 170+ publications in 23 countries.


Shanghai Ghetto

Destitute refugees craving a haven

discovered themselves foreigners in a foreign land

yet safe and spared, culture-shocked Semites

grateful for remoteness from genocidal Europe

even if desperate for food and housing

while old barracks with bunk beds

were hastily converted into group shelters called



Addled by their alienage, they haunted

soup kitchens during prandial hours,

puzzling over characters, admiring

Huangpu River from the Bund, Cathay Hotel,

and Beaux Arts manses of a cosmopolitan

milieu disrupted on a day hateful and fateful

by invasive imperial Axis neighbors

who soon cordoned them off like cattle

into Hongkou district, a sector restricted,

reserved for the stateless.


An unlikely Judeo-Sino bond was forged there

where strangers and locals shared hardship, where

the chicken liver kreplach and the pork won ton

encountered their dumpling dopplegänger

in proximate tureens and bowls

steaming hot with comfort’s scents.


At war’s end, conquerors retreated and troubles

subsided, parting those who together

had borne woes, had endured mutual foes,

and earned the dignity due survivors.

In days to come, they would periodically

reflect on past trials and fearful years,

fondly recalling erstwhile ties ever

preserved in the amber of the moment.