Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Alfonso Colasuonno

You used to be a librarian
At Brooklyn Public and NYPL
You live on Avenue M and Ocean
And you got robbed
But it was your fault, really
You probably shouldn't have kept the door open
Even if it is a Jewish neighborhood
And you like this place
But there are better places around
But you like to come out here
Cause you used to live around here
And you are heading off soon
To go to the library
To borrow a Victor Borge tape
Oh, you know him
What's that you said?
I'm sorry, I can't hear you
New Yorkers hate when I ask them to repeat themselves
You said you watched him when you were eight
At your aunt's on Nostrand
Terrible thing, he escaped from Denmark
Funny, but such an odd sense of humor
Just like my cousin
Also a comedian
I think the library still has his
What do you call them?
Yes, records.

If I listen closely
I think I can discern
The death rattles
of Old Brooklyn
Over here, in this little idyll
Where American flags still fly
In front of detached one families
The sprinklers turning on and off
Soaking well-manicured lawns
I can hear the pangs
In the abandoned synagogue
Shuttered pizzeria
And proceeding out of
The mouth of the old drunk
That one with the faint brogue
Leaning against the door
Of Mickey Reilly's bar
Who Colleen serving up the Guinness
Tells me has to call a cab nightly
To take him to his home
on Schenectady Avenue
To rejoin his dog, old
His wife, old
His son, grown, around on the holidays
His TV, on, the news, Letterman
I can see the decay
In the lines on the forehead
Of the fiftysomething Jew
Double parked on East 51st
Waterfalls playing on his tape deck
The model 1994 too
I can feel it wither
In the hands of the old Italian
Ashing his cigarette
By the swings in Power Playground
Hands that once kneaded dough
For the best pizzeria
On all of Avenue N
Before he sold it to the Albanians
Who in time will sell it to the Mexicans
And they still dance in their best suits
Over at the American Legion
And Greekie still serves
The eggs and toast just right at George's
But the last yachts off the Paerdegat
Will all sail off in their sunset
On their way to Jersey shores
The sons of displaced migrants
From Cork, Naples, and Riga
Displacing themselves yet again.

I’m becoming more and more like him every day
The babyface won’t last forever
And my fuse is shorter now
I’m turning into a foreign man of foreign ways
And I’ve withdrawn for the most part
I’m prone to joy
And prone to rage, just like him
I guess I’m an immigrant too
I’ve journeyed to some queer land
Where the people are odd
We’re all strange though, in his mind
Their ways aren’t my ways
But I won’t look back
He never did
I don’t incline my head in the direction of the old country
That’s just a memory to me
Just old Polaroids that have grown yellow and frayed
Still, the displacement rattles my bones
I wonder how it affects him
We all must have known it at some point
Even the wife’s Congregationalist forebears, centuries ago
I can understand them
And I can understand him
I found a new nation here
And I’ve made sure to try to blend in
I don’t speak - my accent marks me
I have my own enclave, just like him
I talk when I’m there, with my people
I tell stories about the pop of a Spaldeen off a broomstick,
Summers playing in the stream of a Johnny pump,
And how the August sun melted the chocolate cones from Joe B’s truck
I always make it sound better than it really was
I’m sure they’ll understand me out here
Just like they understand him back there
I wave, greet them with a friendly “hello”
And they don’t walk on by
It’s on 322 -
Take a left,
A right,
And place your foot gently on the brake.

He calls out,
stenciled on a Chinese immigrant’s tee shirt,
at a strip mall,
in a town off I-80,
and I sit down to a meal of white rice,
wonton soup,
chicken and broccoli,
and those little crunchy noodle things,
a fortune cookie,
Sprite instead of oolong tea,
this ain’t fine dining,
a rest stop off I-80,
that stencil on a Chinese immigrant’s tee shirt,
I bow my head,
take a breath,

eat and drink.

I am the co-founder and Poetry Editor of Beautiful / Losers Magazine ( My fiction and poetry have been published in Zygote in My Coffee, The Camel Saloon, Citizens for Decent Literature, ppigpenn, Gutter Eloquence, Horror Sleaze Trash, Dead Snakes, Yellow Mama, Quail Bell Magazine, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Rusty Truck, Pink Litter, The Galway Review, Record Magazine, Soul Fountain, Randomly Accessed Poetics, Winamop, Visceral Uterus, Fuck Art Let's Dance, O Sweet Flowery Roses, Pretty Owl Poetry, The Milo Review, Postcard Shorts, and Farther Stars Than These. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Beloit College, where I learned under esteemed poet Bei Dao. 

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