By Josh Gottlieb-Miller

Univ. of Houston, PhD Creative Writing 2021

Dan saw a car skid out on the other side

of the highway—hit some black ice,

the barrier—engulf itself in flames. He had


a kind of existential crisis

about not being able to stop and help.

About not stopping and helping.


A kind of existential crisis?

I want to know which kind. Snow

dancing in wind off the frozen lake,


shadow calligraphy, spring supposedly

on its way. Fish wait beneath the surface

of the water. I’d secure my oxygen mask


first, before I’d help the person

next to me, I say, but that’s

the right thing to do. I thought what I’d said


would get through. I need help now,

Dan says. Kids wander further

onto the water. Dan believes in ghosts


because he hasn’t been haunted by one.

What if it was you, Dan says,

sitting next to me on the plane,


and I secured my oxygen mask first?

I want to hold his hand with my brain.

But after that, I say, then you’d help me.

Question: How does Josh Gottlieb-Miller’s poem conjure thoughts and desires of connecting with people during this challenging time?

Houston Hillel enriches the lives of Jewish undergraduate students, graduate students and young professionals so that they may enrich the Houston Jewish community, the Jewish people and the world. 

Staying in Houston after you graduate? Keep connected with  Jewston

Houston Hillel, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, is a partner agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and appreciates the generosity

of its many donors.

Houston Hillel
Ida & William Zinn Building
1700 Bissonnet     Houston TX 77005
713-526-4918    Map

Houston Hillel's Student Lounge

at the University of Houston

A.D. Bruce Religion Center Room 104
Entrance 13 off Cullen Street    Map