While all of Brooklyn mourns the loss of poet laureate Ken Siegelman, The Brooklyn Paper got to work compiling a list of men and woman (and, in once case, a pair of men) who could possibly fill the big fountain pen of the late Siegelman. Here’s the official “short list” that we will be sending to Borough President Markowitz. Vote for your favorite by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bob Hershon Boerum Hill ADVANTAGE: A great supporter and publisher of local poetry. DISADVANTAGE: He’s too busy to be the poet laureate.
“The Driver Said” Boerum Hill? It used to be Gowanus. This ain’t no neighborhood. If ya butcher Comes to ya funeral That’s a neighborhood.
Matthew Rohrer Park Slope ADVANTAGE: Has published six books of poetry and sometimes evokes the Mets in his verse. DISADVANTAGE: Sometimes evokes the Mets in his verse.
“Morning Glory on the Roof” You have already noted the girlish beauty Of the Morning Glory, The delicate lavendar panties. Looking around you, As far as you can see, Plants are imprisoned. Each morning Morning Glories open upstairs, Out of sight. Each night the concrete lies Like a hot compress on the dirt. Thank you for your brief attention.
Sharon Mesmer Park Slope ADVANTAGE: A funny, vivacious poet who studied under Allen Ginsberg. DISADVANTAGE: Is liable to mention her sexual history. And she has a poem titled, “Holy Mother of Monkey Poo.”
“Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing In Brooklyn” She’s a white girl dancing braless in his teenage basement bedroom. He’s a doughy-faced guy with his tonsils in a bottle. She’s planning to seduce him on the Staten Island Ferry. He’s marrow-close and loaded with his first true kiss. She thinks, “You’re nobody ’til you remind somebody of their mother.” He just wants to go to Bombay and be alone. She just wants a few near-death experiences. He’s hungry for a passion bitter and damp as a last cigarette. She first saw him masturbating off the Brooklyn Bridge on Easter. He first saw her face down on Christmas Day, repeating, “Don’t I know you from the Poconos?” She imagined him blonde and bovine between the stale sheets of a Times Square Hotel. He imagined his next confession. He invited her over for some chicken pot pie. He lived in his parents’ wood-panelled basement. A plastic St. Anthony stood on the lawn. His mother was on the phone with her sister Rosetta. He had a low IQ, but figured he could hide it. His parents being cousins was what caused it. Someone once told him his dull look was sexy. He thought he’d be smart to talk about religion. Her cheap cologne was intoxicating. His slow tongue was shaking in reverse: words frequent and forgettable as waves. She was imagining a cocktail party diamond-high above Manhattan He was imagining excitement like a biblical epic. Her heart was breaking like an Arctic ice floe. He put on his blond armor. She felt numb as needles. He felt like Longinus on the subway. They went down to his basement and closed the door. She spotted “Victoria’s Secret” catalogues under back issues of Intellectual American. He said, “I only buy them for the articles.” They watched “Star Trek” videos with the sound turned off. They played old James Taylor records. He said, “I’d like to explore the erotic aspect of this relationship.” She said, “Can it wait ’til the commercial?” He said, “Have you ever read ‘The Waste Land’”? She said, “My last boyfriend took me to Hoboken for the weekend.” They drove around on the Belt Parkway. They parked in the shadow of the Verrazano Bridge. They felt like tourists in a phantom America. He put his hand inside her blouse. He smiled and said, “You like that, don’t you?” She felt hot and monotonous, like a country of no seasons. She fantasized a bath and baby powder. He had the sensation of running hard on a dark suburban street, feeling skinless and full of eyes. He said, “Be my Ariadne.” Ten minutes passed big and slow like clouds. She said, “What’s an Ariadne?” He recalled a book by Aldous Huxley: “The Genius and the Goddess.” He began eagerly to anticipate the terror in the morning, the terror in the evening, the terror at suppertime, An abuse so true he would touch the stars. Now she’s a white girl dancing braless In his teenage basement bedroom. Now he’s a doughy-faced guy flying crosstown towards Canarsie.
Frank Hoier Bushwick ADVANTAGE: Singer-songwriter who can reach young people. DISADVANTAGE: Has only lived in Brooklyn for four years.
“What Do We Do To Love, When We Talk About Love?” Do we ruin and rip apart what we love best When we spout little words about it out of our breasts? As if a sentence could do a moment justice As if a book could convey a minute of silence As if a song could even touch on the sound of leaves Blowing in breezes on high up in trees As if a joke could remind ya of your natural smile As if “I Do” will bring out all of the love in you What do we do to love when we talk about love? Are we similar to heart surgeons drunk on gin Cutting love up to repair it again? To show off our intelligence and skill to our friends As we sit round a table as the sunset begins And we all want to leave but nobody will say when So we sit here in silence growing darkness surrounding Do we think love is in the bottom of the bottle we are drinking? What do we do to love when we talk about love? Are we like phony fortune tellers predicting the future So we can tell our friends, “See I told you so” sooner? Rubbing a fake crystal ball, a patch over one eye Saying your view of the world ain’t as clear as mine Listen and learn whether the world is dark or is light Are we trying to outshine when we try to shine bright? What do we do to love when we talk about love? Are we communicating or just vainly pumping our veins Full of hot blood when we call out love’s name? Are we sure we are sharing, are we sure we even know how To show a sliver of who we are under the shroud? Are our impassioned speeches just more feed for the cows To get the attention we were never allowed We call ourselves artists and sing thru our mouths But where’s the line between art, preaching, and shouting out loud? What do we do to love when we talk about love?
Leon Freilich Park Slope ADVANTAGE: A parodist with a rapier sword and a witty epee DISADVANTAGE: His poems are a bit of a joke, truth be told.
“A Cooler 13th” Steel bars do not a prison make When it’s bar mitzvah day And Daddy’s obligated to Celebrate and pray. So Tuvia Stern, an inmate at The fabled New York Tombs, Transcended lockup etiquette And ordered party rooms. He had the gym festooned with bunting And rocked with festive strains Provided by an Orthordox group That blew out everyone’s brains. Kin and kith and friends galore All danced and sang out lustily, Serenading the bar mitzvah boy Religiously and robustily. They ate and drank like Rahm Emanuel Or baseball’s Leo Durocher, The food having been most carefully catered To be ultra-strictly kosher. Sixty guests held forth in the cooler For fully six-plus hours While eight correction officers Kept guard over baskets of flowers. The guards as well made sure the party Remained a private affair, Keeping other prisoners From infiltrating there. The only jailbird to be found Was the influential dad, Who may be a convicted scammer But on this day wasn’t bad.
The fraudster’s now upstate and serving Two-and-a-half to seven But at least he gave his now-a-man son A taste of party heaven. And he’s done the same for his lovely daughter — Stern showed his jailhouse dash Again when he had outsiders in For her engagement bash.
Lynn Chandhok Park Slope ADVANTAGE: A bi-cultural poet who would add diversity to the male-dominated poetic world. DISADVANTAGE: A bit academic, which could hurt her outreach efforts.
“Confetti, Ticker Tape” I want to say they’re swallows. In September, when we were feeding everyone we could, we’d look for them above the tracks on Ninth Street. What startled me was how their undersides caught the light, flashed silver, how the group would swoop and rise like wind itself, the flock vanishing every time it changed directions, how the birds hung on air and clung together circling above us, silver, like the squares we thought were bits of fuselage or flakes of skyscraper, falling, until they floated towards us, lower, landing on our front stoop and I picked the papers up, but they were blank — one after the other, blank, burned at the edges.
C. Taylor Crothers
They Might Be Giants Williamsburg ADVANTAGE: Might be the single most-identifiable Brooklyn-based rock band. Ever. DISADVANTAGE: Let’s be real: it is well documented why Constantinople changed its name to Istanbul.
“Ana Ng” Make a hole with a gun perpendicular To the name of this town in a desk-top globe Exit wound in a foreign nation Showing the home of the one this was written for My apartment looks upside down from there Water spirals the wrong way out the sink And her voice is a backwards record It’s like a whirlpool and it never ends Ana Ng and I are getting old And we still haven’t walked in the glow of each other’s majestic presence Listen Ana, hear my words They’re the ones you would think I would say if there was a me for you All alone at the ’64 World’s Fair Eighty dolls yelling, “Small girl after all” Who was at the Dupont Pavilion? Why was the bench still warm? Who had been there? Or the time when the storm tangled up the wires To the horn on the pole at the bus depot And in the back of the edge of hearing These are the words that the voice was repeating: Ana Ng and I are getting old And we still haven’t walked in the glow of each other’s majestic presence Listen Ana, hear my words They’re the ones you would think I would say if there was a me for you When I was driving once I saw this painted on a bridge: “I don’t want the world, I just want your half.” They don’t need me here, and I know you’re there Where the world goes by like the humid air And it sticks like a broken record Everything sticks like a broken record Everything sticks until it goes away And the truth is, we don’t know anything Ana Ng and I are getting old And we still haven’t walked in the glow of each other’s majestic presence Listen Ana, hear my words They’re the ones you would think I would say if there was a me for you
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