The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2023

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APRIL 2023 Issue
Critics Page

step right up

step right up

daughter of a roller coaster
I yell at my niece from the peak

“u r an artist u always have been
art is a life not a career”

I see her on the ground embarrassed
remember her newly arrived joy

she was the morning a beginning
met my father as he was leaving

two delights passing in the night
my eyes wild as his staring hard and far

he cheered me on as he thought he failed
him in my face my lows my laugh my highs

on the walk home from school
passing the funeral home where he laid

my niece hid behind me
dodging his ghost of lost chances

walking down an alley in old Coney
a dragon head swinging from a facade

I hid behind my even mama
who takes a step at a time

watches us ride and dip
hold on to the body the pen the brush

play with the instrument
a stroke a word at a time

I irritate pry egg her on
push for the sake of pushing

“even if it doesn’t work out the way
you imagine it will work out”


Sheila Maldonado

Sheila Maldonado is the author of two books of poetry. Her father Armando was her great encourager.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2023

All Issues