Friday, December 31, 2010

More New Year's Poems

This poem is an excerpt from my chapbook, Belinda and Her Friends. The book is a series of linked poems about characters from the Lower East Side and life in the late 70's-early 80's. Belinda is the central character.

We met when we lived across the street from one another on East 10th. Her building was an abandoned city-owned structure with a self-appointed Polish super, Walter, who kept the boiler running (usually) and figured out ways to steal gas and electricity. The legendary musician, C-Sharp lived in the building also with his wife, China. I lived on the sixth floor of a walk-up directly across the way; I had previously lived on the 5th floor of the ajoining building, but a musician named Tommy nodded out after he came from the methadone program and burned the front part of the building out. People kept living in the rear, but when I heard about the vacant apartment I decided to move, and did so by throwing all of my belongings over the roof. What we couldn't carry up the stairs and over the roof just stayed there.

Belinda and Her Friends won the Erbacce Press Poetry Prize for best chapbook of 2008. Writing it, pieces of dialogue heard 30 years ago came back to me and are included, verbatim. This was a lower east side New Year's Eve day. One of the pictures is the last place Belinda had of her own. But that's another story.


On New Years Eve day
Cousin Willie bought a big bottle of rum,
said he'd sell shots in the house
to all the people who came by,
make a buck so they'd have a little
something something
start the new years right

On New Year’s Eve day
Belinda found a red dress
in the back of her closet
that almost matched her red
suede boots that sort of matched
a red vinyl bag someone gave her
she found a bright red lipstick,
stopped by to get Judy who wasn't there
Cousin Willie was alone
drinking rum from a big bottle
they killed half of it and she left

On New Years Eve day
it was fifty two degrees,
the programs were closed
abuelas in skirts and thick socks
pushed small children along
tugging carts full
of laundry and pork roasts
the guys on park benches
started drinking at noon
some of them looked
like they were going out dancing
they tilted the bottles
for the brothers upstate
called the girls Betty Boop,
went home to eat

On New Years Eve day
Cousin Willie finished the rum
passed out on the bed
Judy came home pissed off,
drank the next day's methadone
both hers and cousin Willie’s,
Belinda staggered around
in her bright red glory
imagining herself draped across
a grand piano like in some movie
she'd have stockings without rips
all her reds would match
imma hook it up this year she thought
this is gonna be my year


  1. great poem, puma. guess i'm gonna have to get that volume for 2011. happy new year, chica. xoxoxoox

  2. a great piece, from a beautifully crafted chapbook. happy new year, puma!

  3. Thank you Laura and Seth. I only have 2 or 3, so let me know, ok?