Other notable work by Gloria Mindock.
In the winter of an old man’s dreams
as icicle tears
shatter on the floor,
I sit shivering and bare,
hiding from my nurse’s care,
because she has black hair
upon her chin.
Behind the doorway
of an antiseptic room
a scrofulous intern waits
to seal me in an antique tomb.
I will let him,
but I’ll carry pen and paper
and write what I remember.
And when it’s done
the door that’s set within a marble wall
will crack and bare a mound of paper
covered with a trembling scrawl.
You think this is an old fool’s vision?
Perhaps you’re right
Perhaps I should start now….
Sometimes I remember
the warming sun
in a distant, Mediterranean November,
and a ragged urchin peeing
on the beaches of Palermo,
his tiny tool held gently
in his mother’s guiding fingers.
Now I can remember
naked bellies, brown and pulsing
glistening in the dawn
on white, erotic beaches,
until my presence cast a shadow
on a sea of lovers’ sweat,
and they fled the dampened contours
where their bodies stained the sand.
Yes, I can remember….
November was the time of year
to lie upon a sun-scorched beach
and lick the salt-hot stiffness
of a lover’s thighs.
But I have also walked
the palm-lined avenues of evening
in a tiny, Caribbean land
followed by a blind guitarist
whose strumming fingers
summoned girls with hot-eyed glances
who did undulating dances
on the sidewalks of the open air cafes.
I coupled with a dancer
wilder than an Andalusian mare in springtime.
She clawed me in her heat
and writhed upon a pastel sheet.
Later we drank rum and coke,
but mine was drugged
and I awakened on a public beach,
The rage that flared within my heart
drained my strength to run away
festered on my will to live another day,
cast me pitiful and empty
on a hostile, driftwood shore
where I feasted on raw oysters
with a toothless, grinning whore.
Yet begging, cursing, I cried for more.
I have looked upon the leering skulls of lepers
steaming in the heat of distant jungles.
I’ve been chilled in pristine polar regions,
the vast expanse so calm and still
that I could almost hear tomorrows.
I have seen the sinful face of my soul,
mirrored in the rainpools of the morning,
while I waited for a taxi in Times Square.
Yet yearning, pleading, I ached for more.
Yes, I have seen Pietas groveling
in the gutters of the evening.
I have seen them swollen bellied
from the winds of morning.
I have seen them bear an infant prince
and cast him down a sewer.
Deep within the steam pits of the city
far beneath the altar of forgiveness
nibbled on by choirs of hungry rats, a tiny babe
floats to the pollution of the ocean
into a hermit’s cave with great commotion
where he’s welcomed as a savior
and placed upon a seaweed throne.
Somewhere in the bedroom of the night,
buried in the quilty bed of night,
an infant’s voice is screaming:
“Wake me, or I strangle.”
No one answers in the night.
The visions of youth are dimming
heroes are almost forgotten.
My sullen legs won’t carry me
to legendary cities of decay.
The brutal struggles, raw and clashing,
are fading, flickering neon gleams
that barely light a final plea for life
as I raise a supplicating hand.
My fears are greater than my dreams.
I could say more
but television travelers would not understand.
So suck contentment like a sponge,
hesitate before the final plunge,
hide behind our drab diversions
and pray, pray the universe is stable.
Yet hidden by the creepers
of the voracious human jungle,
the python twines around his prey,
ingests us all,
then dozes for another day.
The thorn crown,
fell on a stone head
And run as far as least bright star….
The pilgrims come,
and beggars strip their bones
and take a relic to the American embassy.
the bones are licked by steaming hookahs;
in the next life a pair of dice,
falling like ivory objects
from a giant hand of myth.
Peace The Panther
of fierce denominations,
run down to the sea
awooing peace the panther.
The black shape slides ashore
through cringing waves
frothing green, white spume,
landing on a littered beach
coated with plastic, glass, metal
submerging the sand
beneath the leavings of man.
Come mumbling of peace the panther
fanged, clawed, ravenous
lusting children, workers, dreamers,
leaving the ravaged beach behind
gliding a dangerous dark shape
through safe subways, parks, public plazas,
pink tongue pulsing in voracious smiles
come peace the panther
violent and savage in fantasy
slashing and smashing guilty flights
coat black but losing luster
wearily stalks the sinful streets
pity peace the panther.
21st Century Poem
Wordbab strictly verbot
cause gunners need silence
to heatstrap dissed targets.
Ethnopop groups scan
day blat resource vats,
sunning midgather fruits
deradiated before sharing.
Streettraf moves linear,
wasting natural reserves
of the remaining atmo.
Oxytherapists decline trankheads,
resisting pubserve demands
to detox mindbend.
Once in the Bronx
Once I had a girl friend who lived in the Bronx.
I got lost whenever I visited her.
I vaguely remember her neighborhood,
a resplendent boulevard built to welcome
Napoleon IV, Marshal Foch, General De Gaulle.
But it received instead my urgent lust,
leading me astray in the seven hills,
not of rambling Rome
and the conspiratorial Tiber,
but of less noted waterway, the Bronx River,
already submitting to sludge and squalor.
I never found memorable landmarks.
The Bronx looked like so many other places
in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island too.
But the people were calm and untroubled.
It was a little while after one of the wars….
Big II? No, Korea! So I exaggerated.
So it wasn’t a war.
We’ve coined new phrases to describe not-a-war,
at least since World War II.
Thus public approval continues
for legitimate bombardments.
Afterwards, our puppeteers again mishandled
the strings that make the public dance
to a more appealing prosperity.
So we don’t call it war, no more, no more…
We don’t call it war, no…more….
Police action. Protective intervention.
Preventive strike. Preemptive attack.
Far east, mid-east, near east….
So many ways to say we’ll bomb you.
I could go on, but you get my drift,
or you might as well depart,
’cause you won’t appreciate the rest.
I never noticed while I searched for my girl friend,
how many old people lived in the Bronx.
For the youngsters came home from World War II,
married their girls, packed their bags,
kissed Ma and Pa goodby
and went to college on the G.I. bill,
followed by a class jump to lower middle,
paid for by good old Uncle Sacrifice
to reward their loyal service
with the first installment of the American dream.
So they got their degrees
and moved to Westchester and Long Island,
to new houses, lawns, two car garages
filled with the latest consumer goods.
The Bronx was not for them.
While they were packing and moving out,
marooning Mom and Pop in oversize apartments,
no longer rattled by arguments and growing pains,
distant political agitators,
in San Juan and San Turce,
were stirring credulous Puerto Ricans
with dazzling tales of streets of gold
waiting for them in New York City.
And where did they settle?
(Can’t you guess?) The Bronx.
So out with the old,
in with the unprepared for city life,
unassisted by family, government, union-
the Hispanic migration.
Instead of welcoming the newcomers to our shores
with jobs, education, assistance in urban living,
once again we betrayed our immigrants,
but this time better than ever before.
Irish, Germans, Swedes, Poles, Italians, Jews-
however low they seemed to America’s owners-
were more acceptable than Black, Hispanic, or Oriental,
despite the pledge of life, liberty and the pursuit of…
After all, the less we look like our masters….
Once I had a girl friend who lived in….
I no longer remember her name.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you….
While Puerto Ricans were pouring off the planes,
Blacks were torrenting off the buses,
stiff and creaky from the long ride
from Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi too.
Driven out, not by Goth, Hun, Zulu, Mongol horde,
but farm machinery, by Deere, by Deere,
that rendered unnecessary until World War III,
or Interplanetary War I,
agriculture’s favorite utilities,
the bent human back, the grasping human hand.
And so they came to the Bronx, the Bronx,
as others before them had come, had come,
for jobs, homes, schools, a better life.
Does this sound unreasonable to you?
But in the mid-nineteen fifties
It was unacceptable to most.
For in with the new, out with the old,
who galloped, drove, flew, trucked, punted, fled,
until the once comfortable neighborhoods,
abandoned by experienced city dwellers,
left groups of rural newcomers adrift,
on harsh, unfamiliar streets of decay.
Despite all the universities in the Bronx,
and law courts, and legislators,
constitutional guarantees lapsed,
inalienable rights were alienated.
I’ve almost forgotten the pleasures long ago,
shared with my girl friend in the Bronx.
I didn’t go back for twenty years.
What a change, citizens.
I had lived in Germany,
walked the ruins of World War II,
saw defeated ghosts of the Vaterland,
heard the laments of destruction,
met a madman, crooning for the lost “Fuerher”,
rushing crazed through Stuttgart streets,
chanting: “The bombs are fallen, Berlin is dead.
The bombs are fallen, Berlin is dead.”
What does this have to do with the Bronx?
Imagine that I made no gentle rediscovery,
but found a biblical revelation.
Abandoned, burned, collapsed buildings,
spreading rubble, refuse, riots,
on unresisting residents,
atoning their sins in urban purgatory.
Yet across the river,
on Sutton Place terraces,
comfortable observers counted the fires,
entertained by companions and cocktails,
while tenuous holds on life went up in flames….
But how the feasting in Sodom went on….went on….
and the pleasures of Gomorrah were many….
Separated from us by the palace guard….
The prosperous wallowed in indulgences,
refusing to receive suppliants,
a perilous subway ride removed.
Thy song, chanted for all of us:
consume, consume….Waste, waste….
Burn, baby, burn….
Her house was buried under rubble,
while the fires still smoldered,
and extravagance burdened the people.
But who had declared war on the Bronx?
Did I miss the notice in the New York Times
that intelligently explained the invasion,
or authorized high altitude bombing?
Dresden, Hamburg, Nagasaki, ravaged cities,
welcome to the Bronx, don’t say no thonx.
My visit no voyage of atonement,
nor pilgrimage of reclamation,
but arrested by these bleeding streets,
I was possessed by the wilderness of cities
and compelled to serve the needy.
I saw visions that tortured my spirit;
murderous madhouses of anguish,
provided by the state, the state,
no different than bedlams of Dark Ages.
Our prisons jammed, crammed full-
criminals, sinners, sufferers, babies-
hidden from sight behind forbidding walls.
After my pilgrimage to American Institutions,
I recognized the style of government consent.
The children of the parents we would not help,
were finally receiving some attention,
concealed from us by padlocked doors.
While outside those bitter caverns,
where frightened children howl,
the non-war on crime, drugs, poverty,
and all the other social divertissimos,
that keep the media at peak employment,
constantly declare truce, amnesty, armistice,
whenever it’s time to go home to the suburbs.
Our schools are losing the spirit to struggle,
our leaders always have eloquent answers,
our churches are falling silent,
while multi-national corporations peddle our heritage.
Are we mortally wounded?
I think my girl friend was crushed
beneath the wreckage of her house of dreams,
in a once pleasant neighborhood,
somewhere in the Bronx.
Gary Beck’s poetry has appeared in dozens of literary magazines. His chapbook ‘The Conquest of Somalia‘ will be published by Cervena Barva Press. His recent fiction has been published in numerous literary magazines. His plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced
DREAM FOR A SOLDIER
Jesus, with blood-filled tears,
exiles me to my dreams.
There is no word for me to
say not seized by language.
I am quiet.
In this silence, I see a vision which
cuts out your sweaty heart.
You are fearful, cold, and plunge
One dream after another, this replays and is
documented with memory.
Jesus, this is not sorrowful and this
is not torture. This is only me, holding
his heart under hot water.
A regime I will do often like an
He will feel wounded.
Jesus, you will not answer his prayers.
Just give him a scrap not wished for
by anyone. Tease him once in awhile with
a beating heart–otherwise scrub him with
intoxication and let him hope.
For Svetlana Dobritchanin
All my nights here, are like galleries.
I see different tones of darkness.
I’ve only been here 49 years, and already
I’ve been mutilated.
My country doesn’t love me.
Its silence is heated, sweaty, and exhausted.
To speak, would only be a memory of
what once was.
Most my friends go unnoticed with
There is no escape. No way to
overthrow this dictatorship.
We’re all freefalling, looking for
comfort to save us from impact.
Growing up in a street of grayness,
feelings stay underground.
I can’t heal certain pulses.
At night, in the distance, stars
hurled themselves into my eyesight.
Impact was an invitation to the coffin.
I will kill you with disappointment.
The spirit can be resilient, domestic, and trustworthy.
It took me a long time to perfect this smile.
This way I avoid infiltration.
Seeing the dead bodies, I know when
they were killed by their rate of decay.
This is all so systematic.
Seen and unseen graves, are something the
mourning walk on or by daily.
Maybe only dreams can live. When we sleep,
we’re resurrected. If my heart were only
an image, this horror wouldn’t exist.
The cruel soldiers giving me pain aren’t really.
I will die quickly, but my dreams will
free me of all these wounds.
Witness after witness will
speak of the chaos to fulfill the buried.
From cheek to cheek, they will
find freedom on their tongue.
Come with me now.
I will show you a wall stained with blood.
Something all flesh inherits.
POMPOUS MAN FAILS
The stars will not fall for you.
Nothing to make a wish on—
your thoughts spinning…
trying to find gravity but instead
infinity, infinity, infinity..
Aloneness suits you.
Your family will not attach themselves.
Hearts circle around you but
do not stop.
What will you do with all your
fame and looks?
Like a wolf eating flesh, you
devour all the pages.
Never tenderly, you just kill and
survive. Letting your name live
inside your head.
If you have tears, they never come.
The insides of you, never answer.
Gloria Mindock is the editor of Červená Barva Press and the Istanbul Literature Review. She has been published in numerous journals including Poet Lore, River Styx, Phoebe, Blackbox, UNU: Revista de Cultura and Citadela in Romania, Ibbetson, WHLR, and Arabesques. Gloria is the author of two chapbooks, Doppelganger (S. Press) and Oh Angel (U Soku Stampa). Gloria has two books forthcoming, Nothing Divine Here (U Šoku Štampa) and Blood Soaked Dresses (Ibbetson St. Press).