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.

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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.