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Richard Becker


Park Slope


Days of summer pass like pages
through a press: a here today
and gone tomorrow river
of time that moves and stays.
Moves and stays. A moon. A sun.

A clock. The dump is full of projects
in a heap or yet to be. Torch lamp.
Oval mirror. Garter belt. Half a table.
Ask the old man when he’s not
o-ho-hoe-ing. When he’s not

too busy tracking what you will
release as surely as his this or that.
And we. We watch the beauties
dropping from your arms
and strewn about the place

to howl and fade and spill
down drains as surely as each day
is caught in tree boughs for the night.
In sand stored in an hourglass
And we teach the young to pan

for dust of 19.32 specific gravity.
No more. No less. The days
of autumn sun go on. Go on.
Dross gone the glitter stays.
Salvaged in your alchemy.

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Park Slope

circa 1945

After the blackouts
for us the relit city lights
are new. At night soft
as cat paws over snow
through blinds headlights cast
oblong yellow beads
on the bedroom wall.

We name them Good &
Plenty for their namesake
kids like us would chew
between Allied newsreels
Dad says preached to the choir—
of whose Brooklyn Navy Yard
rebuilt half the U.S. Fleet.

Our Good & Plenty beads
aren’t candied pink & white
or the white and purple of
Algonquin shell beads
we traded in school.
Our beads are neon bands
in motion on the wall
transmitting starts and stops
as if in Martian code.

The Bay Ridge trolley—
that speaks in sparks in hisses
that throw off live cinders
at its head and tail from track
and catenary—is a recently
evolved domestic dragon.

We fire plenty of our own
sizzling bullets pointing
index fingers when we hear
the cars or trucks’ backfire
to knock black hatted crooks
off horses. “For Truth. For Justice
and the American Way.”

On radio shootout after shootout
our “silver bullets” careen off rocks
complete with doppler. We are
Lone Ranger. We are Tanto.
Both unscathed in the end.
We never kill and aren’t ever killed.
But the cello tremolos shake us
in our boots just the same.

And after school KABOOM
KABOOM! My cap gun                                                                                                   
in the living room! Your chair
and my Ottoman are your white
and my palomino horse.

Nightly we rub sparks
from vinyl headboards.
One time even Jane your friend
from 2-A dances into the room
with our neon Good & Plenty
running across her chest
twinkling a silver crucifix
taking my breath away—then
as it still now does in memory.

One sided cellphones
press against some ears
as if in pain reconvening
crows at dawn in Prospect.
Silent couples stir
in faded possibility.

Park lamps off. And
I can’t believe it’s
decades later despite
these age spot hands.
In “our” bedroom
down the street from what
is now a fancy B & B
I pry up the one loose
floor board for my cache
of live paper caps.

A penlight sees them
through a schoolboy’s
eye: a flashlight head
pressing out pink
coronas from his palm
like cookie cutters

seeing both past and
future blood and oxygen.
He sees mine. And I
can’t wait for dusk
to glint the “poor”
and always “huddled
masses” carved in Liberty.

Until Gowanus’ darkening
headlights soft as cat paws
over snow can come
parading on the wall again
anointing me in velvet night—
until the sun’s last burial.

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Richard Becker’s poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Columbia, Baltimore Review, America, Cold Mountain Review, U City Review, Main Street Rag, Poetica and others. Of “Fates,” his 2008 Chapbook published in The Literary Review, Robert Creeley wrote there is a “dense sensual feel of language, its frame kept various yet consistent....It's really a great size and shape, like they say—delightful!”


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