Algonquin

by Fred Pollack

There’s style again; the rags and stains
of alienation are passé.
Camelhair, cashmere, turtleneck,
bright shoes and watch – I catch
the eyes of women, gays, and connoisseurs
as I walk the last few blocks to
Our table. Ambulant readers
look up – not from those dreadful plastic bricks
I hallucinated for a time, but books;
some recognize me, start to want
an autograph but, famously, I’m gone.

Beyond the Deco door,
between the beveled mirrors, my friends,
exalted and still sober, sit. Avoiding
the topic of my latest, which they’ve all
reviewed (they’ll praise it with a parting grunt),
we dish upcoming talent. Some I defend,
some destroy; word will spread. Then, mostly
pleased with the struggles of the young, we turn
to the auxiliary art
of film – geese referencing Bergman’s
(or Ozu’s?), other recent subtleties.

But instead they’re discussing The Author –
who isn’t there, as I don’t seem to be –
and Language, which, like a ninja
in the movies they admire, is dressed to kill,
and has eviscerated poetry.
Talking around and around me, they raise
the issue of a certain gaze
(what could it mean? I keep my head down),
and whether any attempt to “capture”
the Other (other what?) is itself oppressive;
apparently one should only listen,
the better to agree, not to imagine.
Silently I drink, and could
be drinking anywhere, or anything.
Then walk out onto newly sordid streets
and find myself as sordidly accoutered
but comfortably so,
being no one again, and they nothing.


Fred Pollack is an author of two book-length narrative poems, “The Adventure” and “Happiness”, and two collections, “A Poverty of Words” and “Landscape with Mutant.” In print, his work has appeared in Hudson 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), Armarolla, December, and elsewhere. Online, his poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Diagram, BlazeVox, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, Big Pond Rumours (Canada), Misfit, and elsewhere.