Charles P. Ries
Your grilled cheese sandwiches under
the full March moon, as Jupiter draws
near and we witness its unblinking eye
hovering above the horizon at early dusk.
The way your lip is slightly twisted upward
at one corner making your mouth look like
an irregular right triangle.
Your explanation for washing your bed
sheets three times a week, “dust mites.”
Your mantric complaint about how hard it is
to dress well at 20 below zero in the midst of
a blizzard. Yet refusing to compromise for
the sake of warmth instead sludging, steadfast,
like an Armani foot soldier through road salt,
snow drifts and sleet. Saying, “some things
will not be compromised!”
Your method of slowly moving, methodically
passing through the house…dusting, resetting
souvenirs, just so. You, the feng shui master
of knickknacks and fashion magazines, creating
a perfect order in the universe of our life.
BLESS ME FATHER FOR I HAVE SINNED
I was restless with the weight of
ideas that flooded me and awaited
their release in the red rain of my
I stacked five stones on a farmer’s
fence post to create a monument to
my existence that only cows and
plow jockeys would see.
I flung myself off a quarry ledge
high above a deep blue pool and
imagined it was a concrete street,
wishing for the end.
I drove my Ford pick up over a gila
monster that peeled its pancaked
corpse off Texas asphalt and chased
after me spitting curses in Spanish.
I dropped acid and thought a thin
curtain separated me from a world
that glittered with diamonds, and
angels, and joy, and that my manual
Smith Corona type writer was an
oracle who revealed ancient truths
with the touches of my finger tips.
For all this Father, I ask you forgive me.
a thirty foot
is a cough,
of the lungs
he doesn’t seem
to want to
help you with
any of this.
Stanley H. Barkan
The Cats of Brooklyn
Brooklyn cats breakfast on birds.
No canned wet pet food for them,
nor kibbles & bits of dry food.
Brooklyn cats are street cats.
They rule rooftops, fire escapes, and fences.
They roam backyards and alleyways
and won’t be confined
in condos, cages, or courtyards.
These are the cats of Brighton, Boro Park,
Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, and Bushwick—
These are not the cats of Manhattan,
Queens, Staten Island, or The Bronx.
These Brooklyn cats are tough, not even
the big dogs of Bed-Stuy will tangle with them,
knowing they, like their cousins of Tel Aviv,
fiercely fang and claw all comers.
You can take the cat out of Brooklyn
to Long Island, Westchester, or Connecticut,
but you can’t take the Brooklyn out of the cat.