Jew Baby

James Roderick Burns

THINGS WERE GOING well — memories of Leo Frank fading, body parts of the lynched man hanging in an Ocilla hardware store window barely a rumour.

Perhaps it was time to introduce the baby.

Her grandfather sat in his rocker, snuff in hand.

“Jew babies’re always pretty when they’re little,” he said, taking a dip.

Leo Frank was an Atlanta factory superintendent from New York convicted of the murder of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, a factory employee, in 1913. Following extensive national reaction to his conviction, appeals, and the commutation of his death sentence in 1915 – as well as widespread antisemitism – Frank was kidnapped from prison and lynched in Marietta, GA, Phagan’s hometown.

James Roderick Burns’ novella and story collection, Beastly Transparencies, is due from Black Spring Press in 2024. He is the author of five collections of poetry (most recently Crows at Dusk, 2023) and a short fiction chapbook, A Bunch of Fives. His stories have twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He can be found on Twitter @JamesRoderickB, and his newsletter offers one free, published story a fortnight, at