Poetry: Old Phenomenon by Frederick Pollack
Sometimes a letter – but words can be doubted.
An art work, but art is so noisy.
Music – in my case, eight notes of Brahms –
can be stored in the vault of the cortex.
A photo, whole or cropped, in phone or wallet.
But often, perhaps most often, it’s less than these
and nothing. An inadvertent inch
of sculpture. A wad of Kleenex, hardly there
any more, containing
a red, unintended kiss. Something scratched
on the wall by the last inhabitant
of your cell, who was hardly kind or generous
but left you a mystery, i.e., a thought.
A stone. A thimble. If they come for you
you might be able to hide it,
save it in some crevice of your body
and so be saved yourself. Or not.
The years go by, you get used to prison.
If it’s merely a metaphoric prison, you should
keep quiet about it, because you might enter
a real one, or meet an ex-con.
And the years go by, and you stare
at the dates, the graffiti, the famous
dying light. One day there’s noise outside
and along the corridors. People break in
to tell you everyone’s free.
You never imagined humans so happy,
concerned and thoughtful. But you don’t leave your cot.
You’re free, they cry. With an effort,
you get across that you’ll only talk
to a learned physicist, expert
in time’s crooked arrow, alternate universes,
a negotiable past;
if he says you can go, you’ll go.
Frederick Pollack is the author of two collections of poetry: A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape With Mutant (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Pollack work has also appeared in Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, and the Chicago Quarterly Review. In addition his poems have appeared online in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire Review, Mudlark, Rat’s Ass Review, Faircloth Review, and Triggerfish.