Fred Pollack


Cardboard: balloons,

monkeys with cymbals;

the lid a foggy early plastic,

but the works elaborate and clean.

When I turned the little crank

what emerged was a precipitate

of Mahler’s 7th (“The Song of the Night”);


when I touched it, it stopped.

Touched again: Shostakovich,

Sibelius – all the things

that had kept me sane through my teens, twenties …

Unimpeded (I sensed)

each would have gone on,

shorn of harmony, dynamics,


only the intervals correct.

Unheard by the other customers

in the shop, the proprietor

unaware what she sold me, so cheaply …

I seldom play it now.

I’m afraid commercials will interrupt in some way,

as they do mid-movement on Youtube.



There were wonderful things in that store.

Metal ashtrays in radiant strange colors.

Ceramic ones with stylized stars and rockets.

A liquor cabinet, Tara motif.

A fluted aluminum decanter.

Fake African sculptures, but quite old –

were they too now, I wondered, part of culture

in a deeper than poststructuralist sense?

LPs: Santana …

and ‘50s, early ‘60s: impossibly velvet

firelight, impossibly gazing reclining

women. A lifesize Popeye, life preservers.

A stack of Lifes from the Forties

that really should have been in plastic covers;

photos of the Detroit riot:

few Blacks, unless bloody;

over disapproving captions, groups

of sweat-soaked Whites, bats, rods, eyes battle-focused,

moving back and forth.

Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness, both Story Line Press; the former reissued 2022 by Red Hen Press. Three collections of shorter poems, A Poverty of Words, (Prolific Press, 2015), Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018), and The Beautiful Losses (Better Than Starbucks Books, forthcoming 2023). Pollack has appeared in Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, etc.  Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire  Review, Mudlark, Rat’s Ass Review, and Faircloth Review.