“Late Period” and New Works by F. Pollack

Frederick Pollack is of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS (Story Line Press; the former reissued 2022 by Red Hen Press), and three collections, A POVERTY OF WORDS (Prolific Press, 2015), LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018), and THE BEAUTIFUL LOSSES (Better Than Starbucks Books, forthcoming 2023). Many other poems in print and online journals.

F. Pollack has been previously featured on In Parentheses.


Whether as output or exhaust
and on however many cylinders,
the private machine creates cruelty.
That’s one reflection. Another is,
it breaks. If you haven’t yet moved
to one story, and Florida,
and Florida hasn’t sunk, eventually
the moment comes to go upstairs
to bed. “Are you going to bed?”
A moment since, sweet silent thought,
undeterred by, oblivious to
the television: monsters
from each of Heidegger’s three ekstases
of time stood around – recrimination,
compulsory renunciation,
threats from the news, latent perhaps,
leering, but in abeyance;
the moment not transcended or
accepted – merely the moment.
And your unpleasant secret smile,
gesture as if conducting an empty
orchestra: ecstasy.
No need as you start upstairs,
without help other
than the banister, to answer silly
questions. Like the inevitable
“Why isn’t this a short story?”
Because it happens in eternity.


It doesn’t need to refuel –
could stay midsea miles deep for five more years.
But here it is at 0100 hours,
silently entering its pen.
Something – a person, chip, or document –
must be going aboard
or waits to be brought ashore, perhaps under guard
or in a bag. Aware there will be no leave,
and of the moment when the vessel stops,
crewmembers wake or sleep
according to their schedules and their duties.
Outside, tropical heat,
untropical styleless American structures.
The town for the most part sleeps
but somehow knows that the sub and
its missiles have returned.
As if its reactor fueled
the music in some places,
the arm raising a cue,
gun, fist, or open hand,
the day’s recorded sermons on two stations,
the obedient words of children
up for some reason.


Her scent lingered;
the soft voice left no echo but a thought.
Steps receded in a hallway
and in the tunnels of my ears.
It would be the moment,
I thought, for distant bells across rooftops
but it isn’t that kind of place.
Outside, some blue remained –
royal blue, and clouds without contours.
I lay unmoving, relaxed, awake,
a trillion tiny symbiotes,
my inheritance from a billion years,
companionably working, death distracted,
until I wished her back.

A realm without an anthem;
the arms of each successive emperor
(who might as well be,
for all the good it did him, modern,
a dictator) is a musical phrase.
Which may be martial, boastful, furtive, choral,
it doesn’t matter: he has no territory.
Tanks and investors sweep
at will across the land, at most
delayed awhile without maps or highways.
He likes, however, to confer
that which is his by right:
a moment – more for the most favored,
who remains the king of an afternoon
however the regime changed in the night.

Late Period

History per se
didn’t interest him. History is a bull
who imagines himself a matador.
Art is the matador, whose job is
to serve up horned skulls.
Towards the end he walked Kabul,
his Afghan (whose features
he assimilated to Jacqueline’s) on
the beach. There he met hippies.
The girls and sometimes the boys adored
the dog. They were often madly
dressed and accoutered; generally
Americans, who are anyway big and absurd.
Some knew who he was and struggled
to find something to say, but said it
in English. Others seemed too
proud in the face of status
to do more than laze. All vividly
doomed. In his studio,
he assimilated them to
hidalgos of the Siglo de Oro –
stoned if only on tobacco;
pleased for the moment
with their flaring collars, plumes, lace, swords, and pipes.

The New Cool

Bed, outlets, desk, john, shower, microwave,
small fridge. Some protest:
a chair? Sit on bed, desk your lap.
Issue of roommates, privacy as privilege.
For items six and seven: dumpsters.
Prepare for a bucket to replace item four.
All you need is air, light, water, heat,
laptop, burner phones, and gun.
During the last storm (short for megastorm)
cracks appeared in the Wall and all remaining
able-bodied were called in to help …
but since there is no Wall as yet
I’ve done more work on the apartment.
Finished soundproofing. Materials hard
to come by; don’t fully
drown the music and hysterias
of all the ethnicities and genders
(each still superior to the rest) who have
been siphoned to this part of town.
By day I organize, get beaten up,
though progressively less.
By night C., not her real initial,
drops by; we’re militant together.
Dawn light, my only artwork, curled
for a moment across the ceiling, I remake
the bed (with military corners),
make coded calls re coming actions,
and plan the postwar world.

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In Parentheses Magazine (Volume 7, Issue 3) Winter 2022

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32 pages, published 1/15/2022

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80 pages, published 10/15/2020

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