At Glenstone

A poem by Fred Pollack


Can a palace be modern?
Palace frou-frou, modern machine.
In any case, the palace
can be seen from many points,
and sees more,
as from the hypothetical upper pool
above its fourth floor.
I keep forgetting how they made their money,

which doesn’t matter: art
is the whole; what buys it,
what motivates the purchase, part.
Cheers from Basquiat.
Rothko questioning the usual suspect.
The peace of Yves Klein.
He who believes he stands in front
is off to one side of the shrine.

Intermittent rain
on the paths, the new trees, the built hills
whose looming topiary hobbyhorse
and vast squat lattice
are worthy goals.
I saw my dearest at the end
of a hundred-foot-long granite naturally-
lit hallway as art.

When the trees grow up, the collectors
will see the pilgrims vanish, reappear.


Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Drunken Llama (2017), Misfit, and elsewhere.

Twanging Voices

A poem by Fred Pollack


That little bald bisexual with an earring –
you know the one –
whose work will always be better than yours
until the destruction of the sun –

For him the theatrical metaphor
was useful, i.e., valid,
even liberating. Not for me.
If the play’s the thing, what’s the theme?
Does it have legs? Who are its backers?
If we took it on tour, would it pay?
Worrying thus, I perform for ghosts,
or like a ghost for a thin and musty
audience of reals.
Early and late I muff my lines.
Have little dramatic sense.
Enjoy a more primitive, declamatory form, and
yearn for solutions:

Hamlet rejects hallucinations.
Juliet says it won’t work.
Lear takes Cordelia’s point (or else
she bullshits him like her sisters).
Caesar gets word who the conspirators are;
his troops invade the Senate and arrest them.


Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Drunken Llama (2017), Misfit, and elsewhere.

A Ghost Bids Farewell to His Last Lodging

A poem by Fred Pollack


Kubin has me cradling my head
(with a gnarled European grin)
in my arms. It must be heavy:
the torso, in prison togs, looks off-center.
Had I met a Wilhelmine headsman, tailed and tophatted?
Or that efficient chute they favored later?
I must say he captures the expression,
but my clothes are the comfy beige of aged
Americans, and my head where it belongs.
The room is already bare, not yet rented;
what used to be there suffices for goodbyes.
Towards the end, on what has since become
the Other Side, some idiot
said I had a “God-shaped hole”
in my life and offered cheaply to fill it
with his hole-shaped God.

Around that time there were other noises:
shrieks, sobs, a rhythmic thwacking
fleshier than sex. If you imagine next-life audio
as a Seventies-style “Wall of Sound,” you’ll
be disappointed: cries as sparse
as sirens in a rich white neighborhood,
though carefully selected
according to an aesthetic
about which I can’t even speculate.

Now I’m off. I might enjoy Kubin’s Munich,
towns bombed or not yet bombed, even
my own several slums. Except
it isn’t the job of the deceased
to enjoy anything; only to resemble
in random streets someone who can’t be there,
causing a little thrill of pain.
To haunt is to pass through, not to remain.


Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure (Story Line Press, 1986) and Happiness (Story Line Press, 1998), and two collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015) and Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, 2018). In print, Pollack’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Southern Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Manhattan Review, Skidrow Penthouse, Main Street Rag, Miramar, Chicago Quarterly Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Poetry Quarterly Review, Magma (UK), Neon (UK), Orbis (UK), and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), The Drunken Llama (2017), Misfit, and elsewhere.

Provocation

A poem by Fred Pollack


When, after years or decades, the detectives
corner the bull-necked abuser and recite
what he did, he snarls, “Shut up. Shut up!”
as if he could demoralize them like
his daughter. Though the poisoner-CEO

tells his assistant to call his lawyer,
we can see from his face he’s doomed;
if it’s near the end of the show,
he confesses. The assiduous hero
gets in some cold remark. But in the world,

detectives are elsewhere. Cops mince
along a line of kneeling demonstrators,
macing them; the latter, their youth fulfilled,
disperse. Abusers and their large adoring
families advance with chants and crosses

upon health clinics. All faith is abuse. At
rallies, people in fortunate sections
where protesters appear surge forth
to prove again the guilt of the victim.
If fools were passive we could work around them.


Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness (available from Story Line Press), and a collection, A Poverty of Words (available from Prolific Press). Another collection, Landscape with Mutant, will be published in 2018 by Smokestack Books (UK). He has many other poems featured in print and online journals.

Pollack is an adjunct professor of creative writing at George Washington University.

Consider the Source

A poem by Fred Pollack


When I start feeling good about myself,
I return to a coffeehouse of yesteryear
where friends – real, imagined, composite –
set me straight. Only one, however,
is eager to talk about my work,

a smiling sensitive whose wheatgrass
and yoga segued smoothly into mergers.
“You seem to think it can change things.”
I disagree. “It’s unpleasant.” I agree.
“You aren’t a politician, after all.”

“They don’t help either,” I point out.
The others seem to read responsively,
their voices shriller than recalled,
from slightly discrepant copies of one book:
about concerts, cars, cults, kids,

cruises and, more recently,
prescriptions that rocked their worlds.
Not everyone is there, even in fantasy.
I miss especially
one friend who said I would conquer illusion itself.


Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness (available from Story Line Press), and a collection, A Poverty of Words (available from Prolific Press). Another collection, Landscape with Mutant, will be published in 2018 by Smokestack Books (UK). He has many other poems featured in print and online journals.

Pollack is an adjunct professor of creative writing at George Washington University.

Gumpland

A poem by Fred Pollack


“What do you mean,” they asked, “you
‘drew conclusions from loneliness’?
Loneliness isn’t a premise.”
I goggled at them. They were already
goggling at me.

Mourning, for them, was likewise
rudimentary, a prolonged
inarticulate questioning
(I’m not saying I’d do better) of
the Incommensurate. The rights and wrongs

of leaving a trail of blood
behind one, as I had,
were left to the minds of judges,
who allowed just one plea:
insanity.

So at meals thereafter I sat with
intellectuals, who built castles
in the air with food.
“You won’t be lonely now,”
said the guards, without subtext.


Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness (available from Story Line Press), and a collection, A Poverty of Words (available from Prolific Press). Another collection, Landscape with Mutant, will be published in 2018 by Smokestack Books (UK). He has many other poems featured in print and online journals.

Pollack is an adjunct professor of creative writing at George Washington University.