He’s one hell of a writer, but no good on paper.

Last night we spoke at the bar
Blends and single-malts of heartache.
3 rounds of gin and tonic.
Stories of poor decisions we’d made.

I said,
I dried up the ink on that one.
It was an exchange,
He got what he wanted from me
I dipped my pen into his chest cavity.
Took a fountain nib
Straight to hisjugular vein.
Bled the boy dry.
But, you know what they say,

“There are more ink wells in the sea.”
She said,
Let me know if you want
To go looking through shipwrecks.

I have been. It’s just-
This one’s no good on paper.
Or, he only is.
Or, this analogy is confusing.
This analogy suits him.

This is a poem of excuses I am already making.

On paper he is
Just a headline
An inevitable obituary.
A newspaper in the age of the computer.
Too often scanned over
I am the fool still reading.

I missed my station reading him.

On paper he is
Shoved in pocket forgotten bar receipt.
Postcard for an event I can’t attend.
The pamphlets men hand me Friday afternoon.
On the corner of Graham avenue.
They ask if I know Christ,
Would I like to?
Am I willing to have faith
In what exists beyond logic?
Jesus, evidently.
And him.

Parts of him have been translated into Spanish.
I only speak half of his language.
Can’t name what fraction of him
I understand yet.

On paper, this is just a guess
At the note someone left by the telephone.
Someone called,
Something incredibly important.
Life or death situation.
Please call.
Scribble. Scribble.
This poem is illegible.

This poem just a list
Of men I should have kissed
I wrote him before he existed.
This poem will self destruct in 15 seconds.
This is a poem of I want you.
They just don’t make mistakes
Like they used to.




Brownstone Poets presents Alessandra Francesca and Phillip J. Giambri (The Ancient Mariner) on Tuesday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Café Dada. Enjoy the Old World ambiance in Park Slope that’s near several subways. Feast on French-Hungarian cuisine and delectable pastries. Relax with some wine or beer, a cup of coffee or tea while listening to great poetry. There’s an open mic as well. Poetry does grow in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Brownstone Poets presents:

Alessandra Francesca and Phillip J. Giambri (The Ancient Mariner)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Starts at 7:30 p.m. sign up at 7:15 p.m.

Café Dada

57 Seventh Avenue (at the corner of Lincoln Place)
Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY 11217


2 or 3 to Grand Army Plaza
B or Q to Seventh Avenue
F or G to Seventh Avenue (9th Street)
R to Union Street, plus a bit of a walk.


$4 donation + food/drink – Open-Mic

Curated by Patricia Carragon




The other night some poet asked if I had a favorite flower.

My sister was the first to say,
It won’t happen like in a movie.
Except, when it does.

Mom was standing in her bathroom
I made blue-grey eye contact with her reflection
She leaned over the sink and coughed up blood and Chekhov’s gun
This was act one.

Before a diagnosis
Before grief and all it’s stages
Remind me,
Which part includes writing poems?
That ‘s the one I’m in.

I come from a long line of women who have gone sighing towards their destruction.

I’ve just gone writing towards mine.
I like to think of youth like rising action.

I was six, in my Omama’s home,
peeking in her bedroom
She was naked from the shower,
Clasping the handle of her tall armoire
Leaned her head against the drawer
And, wept.
I understood, and didn’t
Precisely what this meant.
Sometimes it does.

While Omama was dying we would visit,
Pick hibiscus from the garden
Leave them on her bed.
They aren’t much for an arrangement
They close up with the sunset.
This seems appropriate in retrospect.

When Omama went my mother said,
When I ran my fingers through her hair
it came out in fistfuls.
She was so scared.

She bought me books
I read of Sadako,
The girl who fought and died anyway.

When the doctors told my mother
I started folding cranes.
Gave up a few hundred in,
but in a moment of despair I will begin to fold again.
Never sure what I will wish for.
Though I can guess that I will love them,
And 1000 cranes won’t be enough.

I’ve been fighting with my dead mother.
The worst part is, she’s winning.
Always knew I couldn’t stand the silent treatment.

I can’t believe she’s not here, to hear.
To witness.
I am the only art project she ever finished.
I am the left-handed conclusion of all her smudged ink.
I am imprecise and covered in paint.
I am so angry. She left.
She left me to patch the bullet holes from her second act.
She went out with a bang,
She went out with a gasp
The last thing she said went something like,
“What’s happening?”
“What’s going on?”
The memory is poorly recorded.
When I ran my fingers through her hair
The stories came out in fistfuls.
She was so scared.

I’ve worked so hard to learn to live without her
That I’ve learned to live without affection.
Spend my evenings with men who know only of my body
Its empty spaces, its caverns.
He instructed me,
Bend over and grab your ankles.
He eyed my knees from every possible angle
Took him three morning-afters to notice the surgery scars.
(to ask if this was why I walk on my toes)

He assumed I took milk in my coffee
He’d drink too much wine and say,
Your skin looks like it was poured on.
There’s no use crying over spilled woman.


I have been down this story before. There were no feelings there, only sensations. Men confuse the two.

I was looking for my hat
The red one I wear at the bakery.
This being the only article of clothing
To afford me a compliment
In a kitchen,
That makes it important.
I bought it for 5 dollars.

My uniform of subdued gender.

The curves of a woman
Only travel so far.
They will lead you toward an
Unsolicited shoulder
Massage from a sous chef.
Who says,
You seem so tense.
Well, you are touching me.
So, yes.

I was looking for my hat.
The book of his poems must have gone
Sliding off my mattress
With the rest of Monday morning.
It was waiting in the doorway
When I got home.

Had already learned the sound.
My footsteps, on my toes.
Like some failed ballerina.
How I never chose
The right key for the second lock on the first try.
The ring of bells that mark the end of a day.

Panting frayed pages.
Begged to play
To be fed.
It barked-
Take me on a walk!
To that coffee shop.
I like the girls that sit there.
They are a bakery case full
Of my day-old mistakes.

I have no energy for this evening.
Spent all day fermenting
Yeast-leavened doughs and steam-leavened stanzas.
I moved to Brooklyn,
Now even my poems are gluten-free.
I am wrapped in sugar and sweat and red hat.
I paid 5 dollars for this,
It’s important.

I awoke with his words on my bed-side table.
A reminder to take my birth control.


This post has been edited to protect the identities of individuals involved in these events.

He said something that
Shattered my rose colored lenses.
Ever since, I’ve been batting pink glass
From my lashes.
Asking my reflection,
What the hell happened?
Her eyes used to know better than this.

Sunday, I watched this, and decided it was time for a change.

“Condoms” by Adrienne Nadeau

There’s a line about coffee that burned my tongue.

Monday morning
In the elevator
I was smiling at the buttons like a fool.
Free, for once, from the exhausting confines of infatuation.
I needed a week to walk in the woods, figuratively. To escape the electric hum that has been shaking my ribs since the day I moved here.
To sweat the caffeine from my system.

Then he said,
“I’m George, by the way.”
I hadn’t asked, but he made me wish I had.

These days it seems I only sleep during thunderstorms.

“Who do you want?”
“Every time he says cocaine I want to cut up his words and snort his lines.”
“I have no idea what that means, but OK.”

I’m considering having two tattoos inked across my chest.
“This poem is not (just) about you.”
“I will not be your mistress.”

Every time he says moonlight
It reflects off my skin.

Words have a way of moving beyond these borders.
I should warn you.
This conversation is being recorded.

There is something to be said for the nice guys, for an evening filled with forehead kisses. It just doesn’t belong in a poem.

Upper east side sunrise. Red lipstick and coffee cups. I hadn’t slept yet.

A woman asked to take my picture.

Marilyn, the morning after.

I am supposed to be on vacation from making mistakes.
Supposed to be.

The boy was built for loving
Not for touching.
He’s all moon dust
Long conversation and.

Does this count as another subway poem if I just missed the train?

“It was nice holding [you] though.”

He sat at my table, and began,
So, what you said up there in that poem, about older men…what did you mean by that?”
“It doesn’t apply in this situation.”

“We were talking about you.”
“I heard, though just my name. What did you say?”
“I told him I was upset with him for taking you away from me.”

Correction: I am taking myself away from you. Far, far, away.