Category: Poetry

Poor Room

By Frederick Pollack

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The woman is dying. The doctor
periodically steps from a corner
with morphine. He regrets
the absence of nurses, other treatment,
more interesting cases,
and perhaps mortality itself;
his regret presents as annoyance.
The man in a wheelchair
wants to protect the woman,
in the moments she opens her eyes,
from the room and its many sad or scary
faces. And so he
sits close to her and holds her hand and keeps
his gaze on her, though he isn’t
(as the doctor has established) a close relative.
Light comes from a range
of throwaway lamps. At least there are no buzzing,
sepulchral fluorescents. At least there’s power.
After trying all vacant chairs,
a boy sits on a stool


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Dreaming to Life

By Laurie Kolp

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Last night I dreamed I died and went
to hell. I have no idea why I went to hell—
I’ve been a good girl.
Well, maybe it had something to do
with my fib about the accident.
A train did not really derail.
Its caboose did not come loose
like a fishtail whipping
around, wrecking my car.
No, that fishtail was some man’s hand
a slap on passenger seat
where someone else’s—
not mine, I’ve been a good girl—
beer can sat on my lap
and then rolled all over the upholstery
and then spilled all over the floorboard
all over my smoke-filled clothes—
from his cigarettes, need I remind you
I’ve been a good girl. But the spin made me
naked, my body now misaligned
as this stranger’s hand-slap slide
down to flatten tire around
my waist, down past
my thighs like a slippery
fish out of water.
I was forced to leave my car and race
to the convenience store on the corner
to buy some ice—and no,
it wasn’t for the train conductor,
I’ve been a good girl. I just needed 
to escape the claustrophobic way I felt
inside that closed-up space,
needed relief from probing hands
needed to free myself from being a bad girl—
because really, I’m good—
needed to escape my living hell.

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Oceanside

By George Korolog

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Begin with a cottage on the beach,
a faded two story house,
crusted in yellow shingles,
a block from the ocean with a roof
like a Chinese pagoda
and a screened in porch on three sides.
Outside of the front door,
sea grass and slack sand,
an unfinished game from yesterday,
mallets scattered across a lawn
surrounded by a chest high hedge,
aged and bowed from
the constant salt wind.

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For Sale

By Frederick Pollack

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They want the perks of death without its drawbacks.
They finance the idea
that consciousness is distorted
data, always delayed, the self
a costly entitlement, but they can fix that.
Shrink-wrap the underclass. One-time payments
to the families of liberals, with the proviso
there won’t be any more. But they too,
the deciders, in an odd fellow-feeling,
want sleep. Vast doses of sleep
are better than psychotropics
and trophy-wives. The essential
liberty is liberty from dreams.
The poor, of course, in their warehouses become
piped-in reruns, but the masters
go on buying and speculating
through clever proxies. Eventually we (in a sense)
leave earth, in a translucent block
like a plaque. Lines on graphs
go up and up, unseen. Eventually
we-in-a-sense huddle
for energy around the last stars, then
in the ergosphere of black holes,
but even those dissolve. Though the proxies seek
a new investment, there is only
more comprehensive sleep; and they feel, perhaps,
a delegated grief.
Poor machines, poor force-fields,
still guarding my insomnia deep in their files.

Frederick Pollack

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The United States of Spring

By Claudia Serea

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Bring me the debris of the world,
the rotten,
the discarded,
the maimed.

Bring me the dried carcasses
left on the ground after winter.

Bring me your weak,
your empty shells,
remains.

And I’ll show you
the resilience of the plants.

I’ll show you how to come back
from under earth,
dirt on your face,

how to push
your way up
and stand
in the democracy
of the weeds,

as if disaster,
terror,
history
never happened.

As if we’re here
forever
to stay.

– Claudia Serea

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