Three Poems, by Joachim Frank.

Central Avenue

A singing painful silhouette
of signs: Buy me! See me! Touch me!
Ups and downs of junk
and food
reaching to the horizon,
to my terminal hardware
— oh yeah! —
flowers, records, dust
of abandoned cars
parked at abandoned meters;
central nervous alley,
without a tree,
screening Clinton
from the bourgeoisie.
Twenty-three ninety-nine —
a real bargain.
One eighty-nine —
please come again.
Three twenty-nine —
it was a priv'lege
to serve you, ma'm.

From Northern Boulevard,
where the wheel was invented,
we pass the Stone Age at Quail
and the fire at A and P.
(Christ was born at Goodyears —
it was a pleasure, Sir!)
Shooting into an unknown future
down in the Works
where the wheel will be forgotten
in solid-state ecstasy
(thank you for your patronage).

There goes Wolf Road,
off to the right
into the marble grounds
of selected buying,
insuring, banking.
Be a good sport
at the start;
build your body
in the middle;
learn to fly
at the end.

Passing underneath
the Northway overpass
northwards, nightly,
the scene turns from
pastorale to poor:
midnight red-eyed return
of representatives
of starving,
nearly bankrupt companies:
eight-fifty single,
ten double (if you really feel like this).
A rusty shower sings
your evening prayer.
Gideon mumbles lonely
in the drawer:
this is the end,
God, no, the end the end.
But the ever-present screen
has no mercy:
thou shalt be overcome;
thy brain shalt be washed and dried
for two ninety-nine,
free with the purchase
of six gallons of Alka-Seltzer.

get up early,
buy your own portable bed:
Troy Mattress (kind of jumpy,
illogical, unexpected
between Albany
and the Works) —
strap it to your back,
lie down where you please:
the sky will be your screen,
you reach out
for these little buttons
to turn the volume up.
Your fingers grow,
the sky will be your shower.
Yes, way up there,
in the firmament,
there are tiny little holes.
You will dance
in the warm shower of June
far away from Gideon
and five ninety-nine
and Grandma's toothless apple pie.


Showdown, Sitges

In Sitges, on the Costa del Sol,
I met a couple in the rugged stairway of my hotel.
He guarded her with the eyes of a matador. Brushing me
with her elbow as she passed, she gave me a quick look,
her lips half-open. Since then
I've run into them often. Her eyes wander but he
fires glances at me under knitted eyebrows.
He kisses her in alleys, in cafés,
but she just holds her cheek to him
like a gloved hand. White-skinned,
he sits on the beach under an umbrella
watching her steps on the hot sand.

Now that the stores are closing their shutters,
the water turning cold, a decision must be reached.
I will challenge him to a swim to Mallorca,
tell her to wait for me in the Bar San Sebastian
and be ready.




The couple in front of me has fallen asleep. The couple, as a singular:
yin and yang of the same soul. Their bodies move as they inhale, exhale in unison.
Do they dream each other? So that when only one is asleep, the other watches her
anxiously, for fear of disappearing? And when they are both awake, they eye each other
like strangers? The moment of truth arrives with the fall of a leaf, upsetting the man's
balance: "Honey," he says, looking over toward her, lifting his head.
With a sigh, she stirs, but sleeps on.

A lady in a pink flowing dress, motionless, like a still-life.
I see her from the back. The umbrella she holds is pink and ruffled,
like certain African violets that are in danger of being over-watered.
Her elbows are thin and leathery, like a horse whip.
Her stature is shrinking, as though to acquire the nimbleness of jockeys,
but that choice of career is out: the umbrella will be in the way.
Horses, I'm told, are quite sensitive to objects in their peripheral vision.
I cannot tell if she talks to a friend, or just gauges the distance to the orchestra, the angle
of the sun, or the likelihood of running into a friend
whose name she has forgotten.

The twelve-year old girl grows as I watch: she keeps pulling her shorts this way and that.
Her body must hurry to catch up with the perfection of her eyebrows and lips,
the coolness with which her grey eyes regard the play-cards, looking for an oracle.

The two fat men next to me share a chicken, and one says to the other,
"here it comes," referring to the famous cadence in the second movement of the third
piano concert. The one next to me starts humming along but is shushed by his wife.

We are at the bottom of this ocean, fish swim by in graceful formations. This one
has a thousand fins made of quicksilver, and this one has eyes on its tail
and swims backwards. And what about the elephant fish, almost invisible, all wrapped in
its ears, vacuuming the sandy floor with its delicate trunk?



Joachim Frank was the 1992-1993 President of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild. He has published prose poems and short fiction in Lost and Found Times, Inkblot, The Agent, Heidelberg Review, Groundswell, Open Mic, and Metier. Two German prose pieces have appeared in the German literary magazine Litfass. Edited PROP and co-edited (with Harry Staley, SUNY Albany) Albany Voices, an anthology of poems on the subject of war published in 1991 on the occasion of the Gulf War. Contributed a chapter on Networking in Arts and Science to Eternal Network: A Mail Art Anthology, ed. Chuck Welch, University of Calgary Press, 1995.

Please write to him at



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