Shrewsbury Street

Shrewsbury Street

I suppose all that I really want some days
is to walk into a corner market
with a lunch counter and a juke box
order an ice cold Coke
and listen to men talk about baseball
faulty starters and local politics

If you think I’m kidding I swear that I am
sincere as this is a kind of American zen
I can practice and not feel entirely phoney

Even though it’s a wish I probably picked up
from some novel or old film
and though I’m sure to be disappointed when
it isn’t as photogenic an experience as I mean
it to be, it still won’t matter

There’s always the clatter
of coffee cups and faux porcelain plates
in an old diner
on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, Mass
which I do remember

A diner with 6 booths
and hometown brewed Polar root beer
where you could order a plate
of Boston baked beans
a wedge of pie and refillable coffee
and the short order cook
who was a card
would let you stay late
talking about what a good man was
so long as he got a few words in
and you managed not to praise the Yankees.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

This poem has recently appeared at Ariel Chart: http://arielchart.blogspot.ca/2017/08/shrewsbury-street.html

Conyers

Conyers

-for Aubrey Pollard, Fred Temple & Carl Cooper

I

The stories we tell ourselves
sincere as they seem
mostly overlook the stories others
live individually
so we live in worlds where blue is green

While buildings burn
while freeways are built
through cramped campuses
of what was simply available
While civic leaders bruit
about promises they cannot keep
While imagination remains the true
invisible hand making its porous
palm felt across the land

The heat from the streets
from locked gun cabinets
and pockets not deep enough
to do something enduring
about the Jones that grows
so it is that confessions
and intentions pale beside
predilections that hardly
can be called
the snows of yesteryear.

II

Congressman Conyers
standing on the hood of a friend’s car
implores the rioters, looters
to return home before the first molotov
cocktail is thrown
before the first child is acquired
by scattered fire

These are his people, or so he believes
they put him in office
assured him of his status
respected that he bought his own place
just a mere two blocks over
from the worst street of sin in the city

So it is a genuine rebuke when they say
‘We don’t want to hear it’
they might as well have called him a honkey
or an ofay
and as a bottle shatters on the street
mere inches from his aide’s feet
he stands down, shaken
saying:

‘You try to talk to those people and they’ll knock you
into the middle of next year.’

III

They had the best mayor in the land
the one who came in on a promise that
he’d put in a chief of police
one who understood the nature of the stress
the black man experienced
merely trying to walk to get a late night brew
on streets familiar enough that he should have been
known to any uniform
vice squad or unmarked cruiser patrolling that beat

The folks said the mayor’s appointment
of Justice Edwards as the new chief
was as reassuring and prideful a moment
as President Johnson’s placement of Marshall
on the highest court in the land

Edwards, it should be said, was himself
a white man.

IV

Three young men
all suspect
by virtue of the color
of their skin
were simply dining late
and taking it all in
when a mysterious act
on the floor below
led to shouts of sniper!
and the arrival
of the police and the Guard
so that within a couple of hours
all three young men were dead

Should it be said
that it was fitting that
these deaths occurred in
a motel known as the Algiers
a city famous for a colonial war
that had been lost by the same power
that had passed the baton of its flailing
effort at curbing insurrection in another
formerly colonial land
and that these United States had taken up
a similar mission civilatrice
in that other corner of the brown and yellow world
only to find that bombs and martial superiority
couldn’t cure the clear intent of those yellow ni&*^rs
to no longer take orders from a white Christian face
if it could be replaced by a party or committee
that preached power and proffered proof
that power is still power
even if means to be lord of a pile of rubble.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

Fold’s point

Fold’s point

When I was thirteen and we first went to Boston
I met RFK’s silhouette

What the impact was
what that profile meant
introduced a certainty that
I could go on to The Kennedy School
staying true to kismet

My father said get perfect grades
you should never err-

Yes, dad.

But none of it happened;
the tests didn’t ask rhetorical questions
such as

Is it right to hold private what
your public plan

Or

Is want a foot pressed down
like a blindfold

I was merely a teen
and thought I could gain hold
of a disposition

But disposed to further dreaming
I see the fabric’s fold from the fold’s point
of meaning.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

This poem appeared in the Spring/Summer 2017 edition of Word Fountain. You can hear me read it here: https://wordfountain.net/2017/06/30/jeremy-nathan-marks-spring-summer-2017/

Wrinkled Legacy of Elder Hands -Kevin Ridgeway

Wrinkled Legacy of Elder Hands

made of paper
from depression era grit
and hard fought survival in the
wisdom
of their raspy breath,
survivors of tent cities
and bread lines and proud
service
their sweet rock candy
mountain optimism
their don’t get fresh sense of
decency
their cosignature of the New
Deal
and their gypsy bonnets in
black and white
scrolls of their humble houses
built with
their bare hands
triumphs over greed
that gave me something
to worship,
their medicine show
power of the people
who built the great nations
and their unwavering
optimism in the
face of bad political machines
they fought
to dismantle from the desire
to
bury what can never be
undone in the minds
of grandchildren who cast
ballots and remember,
always remember what the
old folks said
was right and just and for us
all.

Kevin Ridgeway

Kevin Ridgeway lives and writes in Long Beach, CA. A two-time Pushcart Prize Nominee, recent work has appeared in Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Trailer Park Quarterly, Big Hammer, San Pedro River Review, Lummox, Spillway and Cultural Weekly, among many others. He is the author of six chapbooks of poetry, including All the Rage (Electric Windmill Press), On the Burning Shore (Arroyo Seco Press) and Contents Under Pressure (Crisis Chronicles Press).