Barbara Daniels


Everywhere numbers form parabolas,
ratios, lattices, perfect spheres.

             A professor parks his car in a free lot
             and walks down the boardwalk
             to buy ice cream.

He calculates combinations of 54 flavors
and licks his cone to a syncopated beat.

             Down in the gutter something shines.
             To him it's a broken integer.
             Inside the casino, wheels spin.

Red and black numbers tremble together.
His hot streak was just a random run.

             Odds are someone here shares
             his birthday, knew his mother,
             sees the world in powers of ten.

He takes the day off from proven logic:
the chance of his survival, long-term, none.

Barbara Lefcowitz


1. The Intruder

A speck far in the back,
an ant, a creature with tentacles
dressed in black with a black mask
who tries to pry open
the train's sealed door:
when, for nostalgia's sake,
I snapped that photo
I didn't notice him at all--
just the platform, the stopped train
with its NO PASSENGERS sign in the window.
Only when I printed the image
did his presence catch my eye
and I blew him up, and up some more,
so he was larger than the station,
platform, train; a robotic giant, a leviathan,
a behemoth leaping over
memory's turnstile-- so desperate
to board the stalled train and disrupt
the dozing passengers, his tin pail
dangling from outstretched palms;
to promise for just a few bucks
to lead them back to the Lost Paradise,
a secret tunnel beneath the third rail--
he didn't realize the train was empty,
its straw seats--no, they're all chrome
and plastic now--holding nothing
to feed his unrelenting desire.
And a pervasive wish of my own
disrupted my revery
of riding all the way back to 1950--
as if I ever really loved the gawky young woman
I was, who sat on those rough straw seats
and dreamt of leaving Brooklyn forever;
ever loved those streets
with their dark hardware stores
luncheonettes and scuffed brick walkups
below the still elevated Culver Line tracks.


No wonder it appealed
to kids of the War and Depression.
Whether read from east to west
like a Hebrew scroll, or in reverse order,
the Culver Line linked two Lands of Oz,
towering Manhattan over one rainbow,
Coney Island with its own rainbow
of primary colors, capricious steel arches,
so whichever direction you rode
you couldn't lose, unless compelled
by a music lesson or elderly relative
to abandon the story in the middle.
And the way the line itself soared and dipped!
its alphabet of stations
punctuated--right there in Brooklyn--
for a King's Highway and a mysterious place
called Gravesend, not far from Neck Road,
the elevated stations standing guard
above the streets, sometimes allowing passengers
to peek through upper-storey windows
of whole families at dinner, or better yet, a lady
removing her corset; the underground stations
guarded by invisible rats and bones buried
long before excavation of the tunnel,
but the journey itself free from death,
a fairy-tale that carried you above it
or below it, all for a mere nickel, no wonder
the desire to go back.


". . . winner neurons enjoy orgies while loser neurons sulk alone on their couches watching videos and eating cheese curls."

           --Frank Vertosick, The Genius Within

What the Culver Line taught me:

     To be the monthly Miss Subways and smile from a poster inviting every passenger to meet you, one had to wear a perfect pageboy, never get her period, excel in some sport like bowling--

     But the faces in parallel trains never meet. Once I thought I recognized an old friend who had dropped from my life, but her train moved ahead of mine so it seemed that I and my co- passengers were moving backwards though our train was perfectly still.

     I know now that certain clusters of brain cells create such illusions, expecting motionless tableaux, frozen lakes instead of roiling seas.

     Yet back then I foolishly assumed that just because the other train got a headstart, I myself was moving backwards, destined to be a loser, watch videos (yet to be invented) and eat cheese curls--

     Or I confused the other train with the Other Woman (at that time yet to be born). Probably that other train was simply headed somewhere else, a place where I could easily trip, disappear down a raw ditch, the fractured spines of old streets, old selves--

     Unlike the corridor of tiles I'd watch when I stood by the first car's front window, the tiles becoming one smooth white shaft, as if all the grouting had disappeared, just because my eyes made it do so.

Michael Estabrook


Funny how we always think
the other guy is weird the other guy's
the asshole when here I am driving
along the Jersey Turnpike
with this damn hangover from having
too many brandy Alexanders
with Cousin Sandy & her clunkhead
of a husband & I'm drinking a coke
hoping the caffeine will perk me up
& I have my sunglasses on
& my Indiana Jones hat
& also I'm shaving with an electric razor
& singing out-loud to my favorite
Maria Callas tape so who's
the weird one here who's the asshole?


Out for an evening in New York City
at Scoop's Restaurant and Bar with some
professional drinkers
me with my beer and white
wine against their vodkas and scotches.
Everyday they do this after
finishing-up in
their offices I can't believe it,
shake my head take another
hit to wash down a handful of
nuts. Every day. Jesus. My wife
she'd kill me, but after three or four
hours I can't remember much lose
my place in space and
time forget the meandering hollow
conversations and everybody's
names not sure either if I'm making a
complete asshole of myself. Guess
I won't go out for another
evening in New York City with
professional drinkers but then again
who knows, maybe I will.


Barbara Daniels has new poems appearing in Off the Coast, Full Circle, and Cooweescoowee. Her chapbook, The Woman Who Tries to Believe, received the Quentin R. Howard Prize from Wind Magazine. She received a fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts / Department of State and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. This semester she is teaching writing at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, but usually she teaches at Camden County College.

Michael Estabrook writes: "I'm a medievalist at heart (and by training) disgusted with the modern world, particularly with the materialism and mercantilism bludgeoning life, smashing our brains into the ground, our hearts into dust. I'm hoping to get out of the 'business' world one of these days, find a true and meaningful 'cause' in life, other than scratching out my pale poetic murmurings like trying to write in hardened concrete, but I need to find my 'cause' pretty soon before I turn to dust myself."

Barbara Lefcowitz now lives in Maryland, but grew up in Brooklyn and spent summers in Mt. Fern, New Jersey (near Dover) where her grandparents had an old farmhouse.... She has published seven collections of poetry, a novel, a book of essays and individual poems, stories, and essays in over 500 journals; her 8th poetry book, PHOTO, BOMB, RED CHAIR will be published this spring. She has won writing fellowships and prizes from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation, among many others.                                                 

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