Gary Sokolow

Sheepshead Bay Dives

It was roaming the quiet streets on
afternoons, watching the seagulls
in the bay water fight over a floating
half bagel, and passing out in a driveway
of some two family house, the
owner with his white socks off earning
a living, and it was 1987, and you
understand it was cheaper to be going
nowhere, no cell phones, no way to
bleed you dry or reach you, just you
and the streets of Brooklyn before
Brooklyn became Brooklyn again,
and yes, it was lonely. The family
already given up, hiding behind half-
lit candles and gossip, and a draft beer
was a $1.10 and the old bartender knew
you, threw you the first one free, wiped
clean the bar’s scarred old wood, told
you to stop wasting your life like the
others, for you were young, and thinking
back maybe I was simply crazy believing
I was stopping time, nursing a beer,
watching the haloes of cigarette smoke,
and there was an afternoon sun slicing
across the bar, shadows in the doorway
going about their lives, but nothing
mattered but to stand by the last
great jukebox, a quarter or two, and
Judy Garland was there singing to the
regulars, some memories, some aching,
the bartender down at the end, and the
glass, the thumb of cheap whiskey, evening.

The Darkness, the Knocking

Carlos Jobim’s water running
over pebbles rhythm streaming
over radio airways soothing
the pain that comes through
the words soothing the anger
that rises like inside a man
who’d rob a bank to get away
from his wife, and he was
married 50 years, lived on
Florida’s gulf coast, and
how crazy things always
seem to happen in Florida.
How as a kid it was Kissimmee,
the darkest clouds I’d ever
seen, rain drowning everything,
and the ground bone dry an
hour later, water like a memory
fading, yet how the shadows
stay, like the outline of
the names of the builders
on the ovens of Auschwitz,
or the footprints of the
Chinese poet banished for
the truths about businessmen,
and here we are again, this
collective failing, a planet
boiling, how frighteningly
beautiful those words
about the slouching and
the beast, another matter
when it is at the door.

Hope as a Form of Time

Was her singing like a bird or
was it she squat, chanting like
in prayer that shakes a memory.
The ghosts know better, and
still you’re the one who needs
the reminding, bracelet tight
around your ankle, a door
that shuts, and that’s the way,
two pills, a soft tethering of a
nurse, a want there is to make
it kinder, the thirteen billion
light years that would take.

Gary Sokolow received his MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College. Recently, his poems have appeared in Salamander, Third Wednesday, Nixes Mate Review, and Hollow Tongue Review, and are forthcoming in 2Bridges Review.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the editor of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom, winner of the 2017 Washington Prize, Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in such places as The Awl, Berkeley Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Cimarron, Gargoyle, The Journal, New American Writing, The New Orleans Review, Prelude, Raritan, Seneca Review, So to Speak, Verse, Verse Daily, and VOLT.