from the banks of brook avenue

From the Banks of Brook Aveune



ISBN: 978-0-9632201-3-4

Perfect bound, 84 pp.


From the Banks of Brook Aveune

Zeugpress: Smashwords Edition


ISBN: 9781310744402



Sample poems from From the Banks of Brook Avenue

forbidden places

in all the forbidden places

like round the corner

and too far up the block

and up and down the you’ll fall from it fire escape

and across the bad boy bad girl rooftops

of fertile pigeons and antenna thieves

through the sinister shadows of subway stations

and beware of dogs junkies

and the drunken super


through the unexplored side streets of childhood

my mind wanders

that musk of the living

and dying tenement compels me

the gloom of alley and airshaft

the glow of sunlight on brick

i must navigate asphalt rivers

i must trek the broken glass

graffitied mainland to reach

the cement heart of the interior

and i will not return

i am the great explorer forever lost

in the concrete wilderness

i will discover america

flowering in the rubble

a moon full and cold

there was a moon full and cold

and i was a child in the big wide

unwanderable world

kept safe by my parents and warm

while the radiator with its ancient scales

of cracked paint hissed like a tame dragon

through the green forests

and brown fields of footworn linoleum

plastic soldiers advanced from their beachhead

to conquer the living room or to die in glorious battle

cowboys and indians skirmished at fort apache

alien spacecraft landed and robots ran amok

gallant knights with british accents

rode forth from castle walls to great adventure

fighting firebreathing worms and other strange creatures

so the countryside would be safe for travelers

and a child might sleep in bed and fear no harm

there was no gore just valor and victory and i

was general or prince or hero

anything is possible in the moonlight

this is the moon that shone over stalingrad

when death oozed through the rubble

this is the moon that glowed over the balcony

when romeo swore his love and juliet was enchanted

a leafless lifeless moon amid the tarpaper sky

which rose above the rooftops which shrouded our souls

shining white beyond empty streets and unlit windows

beyond unseen sleepers and reason and dream

a moon bright and distant

as a future as a friend as a life beyond the immediate

i pressed my nose to the windowpane and saw the moon

looming over lovers and battlefields

i wanted to sit forever in its light

to drink in the heavens to drown in wonder

ecstatic and enraptured

sated and thirsting for more

the fearless loveless bloodless moon

beyond the who and what and where of the sun’s despair

its stark chill beckoned unanswerable

just another new york city subway near death experience

116th street and lexington avenue

three of us in the subway car

like some underground golgotha

when mister death walks in

not looking too kindly

we are not feeling immortal today

he is six feet tall he is five feet wide

he can sit anywhere he wants

but he stands right over me

cold eyes solemn mouth

in one hand a thick belt

dangles like a scythe

(the other holds the commuter strap

for proper balance because giants

do not like to tumble before their prey)

as the train rocks along

like the history of western civilization

which is irrelevant at this moment

of imminent doom

his eyes do not blink

his mouth does not smile

(i have lost my sense of humor

and all other sensation)

that immense hand

that mysterious belt

dangling in my peripheral vision

like a glimpse of heaven beyond pain

i cannot speak

i cannot run

the enormous gray clad arm

moves and the belt

taps my knee

taps my knee three times

his eyes do not move

i do not move

nor think nor feel

i have transcended

humanity in a subway tunnel beneath spanish harlem

and he walks off

to the next passenger

and taps his knee

three times then on to the next

three times and there are only three passengers

so he lumbers into the next car

searching for knees

and i feel like sir gawain released by the green knight

introspective and glad to be alive

i am young and i have learned

that experience is not unique

that the inevitable is

sometimes avoidable though i don’t know how

and that for a mere fifteen cent token i can wander

forever searching for the man who taps knees

but when a voice says  shoot boy it was just another

new york city subway near death experience

i remember that i was going to play basketball and maybe

talk to some girls afterwards though i am

a lousy shot and terribly

socially awkward

yankee kitchen

there are paintings of quaint towns by the sea

and clippers slicing windswept waters

wood trim and white bricks

a touch of new england in new york

with a whiff of chowder on the menu

harbored next to a massive gray church

where angels watch over the world

and the monstrance shines over the globe

and the winged herald on the corner wields a trumpet

louder than all the taxicabs on lexington avenue

if only we could hear it

but we sail the winds and waves of adolescence

and drift back to this modest diner

with its patina of grease and nicotine

to listen to ourselves and feast

upon just being friends

in that delicious time

before the future pulls us apart

and we become like the pedestrians beyond the window

scurrying to love to money to fashionable

restaurants or dive bars

honking like traffic at anything in the way

some of us will make the angels cry

some will just wander off

into life but for now

we have nothing to do but sit

together and sip our sodas until the ice

turns to water while ralph

the aged waiter with the patience of a saint

lean and drawn like the farmer in  american gothic

and a loving smile pretends not to see

jerry use his straw to shoot spitballs at the good

citizens of nantucket so purposefully

portrayed in oil amid the rustic wooden frame

while in the infernal heat of the kitchen

the anonymous infamous fry cook grills

hamburgers cheeseburgers and anything we can afford

we do not know his name but we call him

genghis khan because legend has it he once

charged from the grill waving a butcher knife

at a customer who complained

so we laugh and to the last

lick of grease eat clean the bone

white plates of our hungry


from the banks of brook avenue  is available as an e-publication from Smashwords


Kirkus Reviews:  From The Banks Of Brook Avenue

Poet Rodriguez (Concrete Pastures of the Beautiful Box, 2008, etc.) brings his Bronx Trilogy to a resounding, satisfying conclusion.

There are few cities that have been the subject of more poems than New York. Leopold Senghor celebrated the metropolis in “To New York” (1956), Amy Lowell plumbed its mysteries in “New York at Night” (1912), and Hart Crane gave it a book-length treatment in The Bridge (1930). A complete list of similar works would run the length of Fifth Avenue, but all this verse gives limited attention to the city’s northernmost borough. Many artists—and not just poets—have fallen in love with Manhattan, but few often venture much above 125th Street. The same can’t be said for Rodriguez, whose latest is the third in a trilogy of books lovingly devoted to the Bronx. His verse is unpretentious though never unprepossessing, and in it, the author wears his love for the borough on his sleeve. For example, he calls Cypress Avenue, in a poem named after that South Bronx street, “a half mile of peace and simple wonder,” before continuing, coyly, “or is it just childhood illusion.” The fact that the Rodriguez’s obvious affection for the city is cut with such caution—or perhaps it’s just reserve—makes his reflections both more believable and more satisfying. Later, in the poem that gives the collection its title, the poet sounds like Allen Ginsberg in the breathless rush of his lines: “and the bootblacks toil and sweat drops from their brows / and the bootblacks beat beauty into old shoes / and the bootblacks earn a living one dollar at a time / in america where we vote for our kings / and the police beat whom they wish / and the strong beat the weak.” In these lines and elsewhere, Rodriguez makes room for a strand of social commentary that not only lends his writing weight and force, but also makes the collection a compelling read for New Yorkers and non–New Yorkers alike.

A long, beautiful praise song to the land north of the Harlem River.

     —Kirkus Reviews

Hope you enjoyed the selection.

You may want to listen to the author read the poems.