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Brooklyn, Brooklyn, fabled eye of the mermaid’s fin,
composting place first layer Dutch, next New World Jews,
now Russian business makers overlooking what once was egress,
by ferry, to the wild pines of Paumanok,
Brooklyn, was it ever really thus?
Vaudeville street vendors, girls in braids playing jacks on the stoop,
stylish Socialists in their crimson berets, a thousand chickens dying in every pot
Brooklyn, why did the Dodgers leave you?
Why were the seats divided up, preserved like tomatoes from a sandlot garden
in the Hall of Fame upstate where
baseball was not invented, only deified?
Whitman’s umbilicus, stretching from its cement cradle,
Brooklyn of Enid and Donald,
where every free writer goes some time,
I have never seen your docks, your streets,
your shops signed in Yiddish, Russian, franca de jour.
Am I to believe I have nothing to write about?
Long Island may lack the mica-jeweled sidewalks,
but it was heaven at first.
Whitman remembers it, great fish lounging in New Amsterdam’s wake.
So much there would make good poem:
spine of the Expressway pulsing with commuters,
Hampton weekenders, Mexican handymen
trucking to clean-up another McShtetl,
beaches priced out of reason, out of the hands
of the average Walmart manager,
even bungalows of Patchogue, no heat, no electric back in the day,
Atlantic hailing the Old World shore, from another country, another price.
The fog in this valley waddles until almost nine,
leaving the blue to handle the rest of the day.
I am far from every gravesite I have had the pleasure of closing.
I am afraid I will not outlive my own laundry,
that the time I spend in line at the checkout for mayonnaise, toilet paper, the Star,
will comprise the majority of my existence.
Brooklyn, Long Island, you both hold secrets I won’t have time to tell.
I’ve already mentioned the yellow lady slippers along the road to Grand Union,
digging with teaspoons in the yard to China.
The number one cause of dog death on Long Island is a speeding car;
the second is ennui, due to the blackness of pavement.
Brooklyn poets, I have nothing to write about but the usual suspects-
commonalities of sand and dogs.
Hidden in the hills, reverb of kisses,
it is sad to be caught here in the din of all this quiet.
The real love of my life was raised beside a bottomless river,
moronic sacrifices unappealing to the Injun spirit.
He saved himself and met me here, on my own cracked stoop,
where we marinate the tales of the day, though they are
mostly too tough to consume with much savor.
Cheryl A. Rice