The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2023

All Issues
APRIL 2023 Issue



Sonnet for C

I’ve been saving rocks like you told me to
You said use them in an emergency
Employ these rites when destitute
Disregard impending urgency

Ritual B was devised for C’s
untimely departure last year
Singing Blue Bayou in minor D
Brought you closest to feeling near

Summoning ancestors straight through days
your absence transformed my becoming
disarmed on lone subways
singing, whispering and humming

Walked blind through the shadow of a pigeon
Consulted sparrows, gaining no vision


it’s true i stole a pear today when i saw
it sitting on the shelf on the wood
striped reject of a lovely arbor day colored ribbons flowing down in the wind
of your plundered stump
seeing the lemon in your skin turn the yellow of
her loneliness you stop texting
and come
let’s walk straight from the halls
to the children and their children's children
go together to take back our food
let the sky drop ceilings
fall into our inheritance
just for being freed
from the rectangle’d linoleum factory ballroom flat top
all full we're hard to shake
the habits of the calendar size and
sock matching imperatives
now face the four walls without guile
& let’s walk away with hands raised
bouncing the phone call on your stomach we rarely look at
the bones rubbing against us
When after you told me
even on the psych test
draw ears on the hat, hands on the fingernails
we coulda done that in your living room
we take pantless days and puff pastry nights
how anyone gets to feast
i reread your scale
a dinosaur, a doll shoe
the ruby beads on your necklace
And who gets to be a person


Dear X
I stomp on the month of you
make November’s Decembers in January
get your ghost dressed and hoist it
on telephone wires off in somewheres
desert so dusty
you go back behind the general store
walk inside the reeds to the machine
lay flat on its back with my name on it
my name an open field
grey when you ask for directions
hard drives discards of last sun
old desert gems
still await no apology
instead you show up in boots, poor penmanship
your clumpety billy clubs a gong show
on the bedroom door
man your character stand supright
silhouetted by decades of gallops and court accolades
i sit and lick the bowl clean
of your dowry
lean on that harmonium key til' I'm hard of hearing
sustain the plaintive drone
your initials on my rectangles
invoke an intermediary
she’s neutral
don’t flatter a woman my age
any age really

For Milford Graves

A moon
in a puddle
The dog
dragging a limp leg
across the pine needles
mourning at dusk
what’s the name of your pig? ---- pork chop
And last weeks? --- Pork chop two
The strongest sense
is the sense of taste and hearing
so lick me a song
to suffer me to sleep
I wanted to move
like a praying mantis
I wasn’t gonna pay
no masters
so I ordered a pack
of praying mantis
I let them out of the box
and I watched them
I watched them and I emulated them
Then I made myself small
and I slept under a leaf
Leaving gravity and space behind
Inside I’m spinning now
inside the micro cosmic orbit
If i can imitate
a plant i can satisfy me
Laugh all you want
Soon you’ll be ordering
my catalog
Soon you’ll pay
for photosynthesis
lessons and cry
yourself to sleep
Just watch

For Walt

The birds repeat with worry
it’s not neurotic
it’s their signification
They know their names without us
In the dream the plaids and stripes collide
Your sense of order permanently damaged
it’s their signification
This week 3 suicides instead of 2
and one of them a fake
out to dodge family responsibilities
so that doesn’t count, worse?
This week 3 suicides instead of 2
and one of them a fake
Here the rooms have different odors colors ages and temperature
like kids
can we call that personality?
I vote yes
I sleep biting hard on my cheek and wake with a shelf
inside my mouth
the laptop unopened.
Yea, they found him in Peru
Slipped between the wall and bed with the socks
alone in good company


wish he’d let the silence sing
i miss the good life
what exactly is that? if you love each other that’s usually the highest expression
just keep that up
you never found the park but got deer shit and cow patties
you killed the silence w/ loud rap twice then youtube commercials
some dogs and a dry stream walking the valley and plastic paper tin cans and rubbers
please don't shit outside my house
don’t give me no excuses
different than don’t sit on our benches unless you drink our coffee
camera shy dogs and explosions
still blowing up the sky
birds quiet but audible
looked for the park and found land of the lost
dogs running wide when they see me


Suzanne Goldenberg

Suzanne Goldenberg is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and activist. She hosts the CRUSH reading series at the Woodbine collective in Ridgewood, NY. She is the author of HELP WANTED ( chapbook ) and her forthcoming book GOING PRO. Her work can be found at


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2023

All Issues