White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
WHITE WHALE REVIEW
Frederick Pollack
Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness, both published by Story Line Press. His work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Fulcrum, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), The Hat, Bateau, and Chiron Review, etc. Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Snorkel, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire Review, Mudlark, etc. Recent Web publications include Gloom Cupboard, Blinking Cursor, Occupoetry, and Seltzer. Pollack is an adjunct professor of creative writing at George Washington University.

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Frederick Pollack

Ellen Avery

 

 

The tourists have gone; I can’t say

I’ll miss their endless peering when,

bored with crabcakes and toffee

or having somehow lost their parking lot,

they roam briefly inland and pass

the grimy window of my studio.

If I painted the one view of the one beach,

like so many others, they’d ignore me;

but looking in, they wonder what

I’m doing ... What am I doing?

( – Remember how angry I was

fifty years ago, when Marya said

those first Pollocks I saw with her

would make a lovely chintz.

I’d be more tolerant now;

as would she, if she were alive and if

familiarity were tolerance.)

It’s autumn, time to hang another piece

on the wall opposite the screens

 

[....]


Frederick Pollack

on which dear Dr. Gilder hangs my x-rays,

take back last April’s offering, dread

a bit more his retirement,

thrill like a girl when he marvels

how well I’m doing actually

(considering), and talk –

as if we were two grownups

mumbling over a child –

about poor Sarah, my survivor friend.

Who “should be in a home –

we really must confront that,”

says Doctor G., quite thoroughly confused

when I agree, sharply: “Yes, she should have a home.”

(Instead of a room chez a niece

who is pious and narrow and mean,

herself another piece

of driftwood washed here on a husband’s tide

in contrast to my own careful docking.)

“I’ll take you in, and we’ll go down together,”

is what I say to Sarah when

we hobble among the tourists,

shying from their bellies

 

[....]


Frederick Pollack

and their explosive and unhappy kids,

admiring the nearly naked young,

enjoying the usual view, the noisy gays.

It’s hard for her to get lost, I tell the doctor:

the town is small, and anyway

most of her life, she says,

has been a grand though unaccountable

and possibly pointless voyage;

a fading number tells her where she’s from.

She’ll take up no room –

which is good, for I have none;

especially now it’s fall

and my other friends, who have hidden

all summer, come

at dusk to drink and argue while I cook.

All men, which means their various pains are tragic;

or at least glorious, like

their wealth, such as it is,

their politics or art, such as they were,

their late regretted wives.

I love them most, I think, when they mostly talk

to themselves: Douglas describing

a memorably rude tourist;

 

[....]


Frederick Pollack

Howard a book, a traveler’s account

of a strange old settlement

in Paraguay, where someone said

after the War, “At least we have made others suffer.”

He wonders at that, ignored, shaking his head.

Of course they can be trying

when they begin to repeat themselves, or trail off.

Or when, despite my orders,

they attempt to help me clean.

These longer, quiet nights are also time

for letters. (Doug insists

he’ll buy me a computer …

I prefer his nagging and his tales

of endless information, fabulous ease.)

There are still surprisingly many

to write, and even some that will be answered;

though when I start without a salutation

I know that one’s to me.


Frederick Pollack

Walter Gamble

 

 

A sociologist, what was his name, Domhoff,

marveled at how much people like us

enjoy? endure? golf.

I think that was the last book I read

except for strictly work-related stuff

or a thriller on flights.

Movies are my thing, ever since I was a kid;

I thought I died and went to heaven when

we invented VHS, then DVD

and digital, the big home screen …

Still have a piece of that.

But golf – what could be better than

fresh air and walking?

At the top, work is the same as talking

with friends, and when you’re tired of working

(or when your work is done) you’re playing,

in an environment that’s pretty much

how people have always imagined heaven.

These days my handicap

 

[....]


Frederick Pollack

is seven, and I’m happy to let younger guys play through;

though occasionally one of them is a Jew

or even, every so often, black, they’re

fine. What would I do at home?

The flowers she brings in

are like a hospital room, or worse; the silent

phone – well, I prepared for that

during my messy year

of minimum security, public service …

Remind myself I often wanted it.

I only regret you can’t see the mountains; this area

has become so developed, pushing farther and

farther into the desert. The airport,

which used to be weeds, has become a hub

and the planes are overhead.

Sometimes a hatch opens and one

or two step out with

parachutes (which have barely enough time

to open), chevroned jackets somewhat

sweaty but we take them in,

feed them, even invite them to play a hole

as the plane flames down upon the city.


Frederick Pollack

This Thing of Darkness

 

 

Caliban was glad he had written his poems.

Though he wondered how it had happened

they all involved the human world

he didn’t especially like, rather than

detached symbols, faint

meaning-tones, wildflowers, upland meadows

and pleasure, which he did.

A curse, he told himself.

People, psychologies,

class really belong to

the novel, the realm of some

repressive reactionary moralizing mage;

poetry is about freedom.

He often imagined a flagstone wall –

ancient or well-faked – himself clumping

along beside it, eyes and

nose to the dismal moss between the stones.

And as long as he didn’t

look, the traffic on

his other side was sparse and ecologically sound;

 

[....]


Frederick Pollack

wide oaks had subsumed the mcmansions; there were parks,

one big park. And as long as

he didn’t breathe too deeply, the air was clean,

and if he

didn’t listen closely there was silence.

Somewhere beyond his peripheral vision, a kind of

advanced-ceramic butterfly hovered

at two o’clock, four,

ten; flew fifteen meters

east, then up a wide curve –

remaining in sight of a hippo downslope

(who roared) and seeming to

regard the hippo with indifference, then

vanish, uncaring

that what emerged from the steaming maw was love.

 

 

 

 

Copyright © Frederick Pollack. White Whale Review, issue 5.1


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