Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Cold Water Flat

In memoir, Poetry on October 28, 2016 at 2:26 pm

 

vintage-west-village-map

COLD-WATER FLAT

That now has hot water.

I used to think of it as my

Million-dollar apartment,

All three rooms of it.

I was close to the Hudson River

And to the quiet streets

Of the West Village.

It was only a subway ride

From my mom and my hometown

In Jamaica, Queens, New York,

Where I wouldn’t be recognized

If I returned there for a visit,

As almost everyone I know

Has moved away to the Island.

West Village. 1970s. I was youth

Run amok. Up days on end, drunk,

Nicotine poisoned, searching

For an “ancient heavenly connection”

To give my life meaning while I drove

Hit-and-run love affairs that left

Me and others sorry for living.

Employers who put up with me

Because I knew books

Or to help stave off

The inevitable homelessness

I was headed to fast.

Eleventh Street. Roaches.

Smelly cat litter. Tobacco smoke.

Imagine a plethora of apt adjectives.

One cat I threw out

Before an open window.

The other cat died without

An explanation.

Now, I’m far enough

From Jamaica

And the West Village’s

Descent into madness

And have achieved

A Ginsbergian cool,

Hello, Murray Hill.

-Michael LaBombarda

CAPTIVE

In Poetry on October 21, 2016 at 1:26 pm

 

 

shame

Foreword: This is a voice for the plight of trafficked persons.

Nameless, faceless, in a sea

Of scenarios waiting

To be played out,

My identity is a blur.

Faces, places, sounds swirl

Around me like a flood.

I am engulfed;

Broken, shattered

Into pieces. Violation

After violation,

I am consumed.

Running! Running from shadows

Of my past. I am

A victim of the present.

 

Silence!! (Terror can be so silencing.)

I am screaming,

But you can’t hear me.

I am screaming,

But you can’t see me.

I am screaming,

But you can’t help me

Nor save me

From the scourge

Of the underworld.

 

To my captors:

You disarm me

With your half-truths.

You captivate me

With broken promises.

With a nod of the head

And a handshake

You say, “Give me

Your tired, poor, huddled masses”

And erase my innocence.

With a wink of an eye

You say, “In God we trust”

And obliterate my smile

 

And you laugh.

With a kiss

And a warm embrace

You betray me.

You darken my soul

And sell yours in the exchange.

Ah, yes, to my captors!!

For now I am your cache

Till Liberty comes.

-Llima B.

(REFLECTING ON TWO REFRIGERATORS: HIS AND HERS)

In Food, Poetry on October 13, 2016 at 8:13 pm

kenmore-elite-refrigerators

HE               

He stood complacently, not responsible for

its greenery

he shrugged and gave a quick nod to the farmer at whose hand a tomato was nurtured into full redness

he stood surveying the abundance of choice with a boredom not fitting its opulence

he had eaten one too many carrot sticks and bedded down his lettuce as a frivolous notation about his access to the harvest

he had meant to care but found he couldn’t

he had meant to share but found it too bothersome

he yawned in the face of greens and reds and oranges and yellows and the endless need to wash and wash and wash and chop and cut

and the glass bottles of extra virgin olive oil and jugs of red balsamic vinegar and

he remembered the towering woman

who swept her pasta up in one fell swoop—

how it had fit perfectly in the Styrofoam container

how he had started to say Styrofoam is so bad for the earth but she had turned and left and it enraged him how anyone would walk out on him when he had so much to say and had demanded her to listen

he imagined the cherry tomatoes as her earrings and woven, braided strands of spaghetti as her necklace and then it revolted him because all he wanted

was a glass of brandy and his cigar and a tower of a woman to meet his every need

and the waitress had spit at him when he didn’t tip her and he wondered why they all persecuted him and

he sat on his tile floor and

cried and

cherry tomatoes rolled about his kitchen floor and

made him laugh.

 

SHE

She was tall and solidly built.

Her calves were hefty, sturdy foundations and she swayed, unconscious of her movement

a distant humming setting her on her way delicately

back and forth silently.

A tower of a woman stands at the door;

the chill from the fridge plastering her face ghostly as if the cold had pressed her flesh into ice—

a face gone white and numb.

Now she sees the piles of Styrofoam containers of the food she could not stomach

with the company she sought to escape.

Give me a doggy bag and let me run far from him she wanted to say

But only pointed to her plate of sad spaghetti and crusted bread and flakes of Parmigiano Reggiano with which she toyed, one swipe of the fork and

when the waitress saw her she threw the contents in a Styrofoam bin sullenly

and he watched, about to speak, and she fled before he could

and silencing thus, she vomited all food and thoughts and words in the comfort of her home and stacked another container on the tower of her containers and she was a tall and hefty woman who could,

if asked,

heave all the cartons to the wind and with it,

the likes of all those who sat across from her, fork in hand.

Instead she piled one on one on one the white Styrofoam tower

sturdy like her own, good, once hungry body and she says

Enough and shoves the last container that

falls spewing fine threads of spaghetti, chirping meatballs crying for help racing across the tile floor—

and the one below it, white Styrofoam square, stodgy falls too

And another and another

the containers spewing rice and broccoli and carrots and roast lamb with rosemary and yellow yams still in their tight jackets and wings that will never take flight laden as they are in barbeque sauce and baby leaves of spinach set flight away from cherry tomatoes and all the words of all the men who tried to tame her with affection

And leering glances

And cauldrons of words chased down with brandy.

She swayed on her long legs

Then Topple! she shouted

Then Fall! she sang and kicked a meatball into the corner

Then Gather the food as if in a harvest! she pleaded and

looking at the wasted food on the black and white tile floor

sat on the floor

collapsed onto the floor

and cried and when she thought

of all their words over dozen of dinners,

jumped to her feet

and laughed and laughed.

  -Annie Quintano