Two Poems by Linda Lerner

Like Any Drunkard

It’s the way my cat lifts a paw and
bangs on his bowl  as I pick it up
If I don’t fill it fast enough
see in his urgency that same
need I once saw in a man
I thought I knew
seated on a stool beside me,
clenching an empty bottle
hitting the bar with it repeatedly
like the bars of a cage
and the waiter busy serving others
maybe didn’t hear that
wounded animal whine rise up
each time for if he did would
have done anything to sooth it


mid east sand blows thru  Katz deli New Years day, 2010

hotter than the mustard on my
pastrami & rye hot as
it was burning cold outside
how hot  I asked,
“you have no idea….”
a waiter just  back from Afghanistan said,

snatching a quick break from a celebration
watched thick salami & roast beef sandwiches
plates piled with potato salad
thick sour pickles, huge knishes
rapidly vanishing from
New York’s taste bud memories,
pass across the counter, crossing generations
line  barely moving
and thirsting for Dr. Brown’s cream soda
to wash down what  hadn’t yet been eaten

inched my way closer to what the man ahead of me
was telling the waiter, who nodded,
explosives going off between  his roast beef
and sour kraut    orders  for him and a friend
yes it’s to go…  three more days,
words drawing lines in  sand
around them…sand I now stood in
could taste  sand hotter than I ever imagined–

the one who’d just come back
and the other on route to Iraq
the one so nervous, jittery, the other
so calm….

“I have a job to do,” he said
without looking at me,
“then I’ll come home,” spoken with
such surety, I didn’t know what to say
and forcing my way in where
I didn’t belong

said, “my late partner was in Vietnam”
flinging a grenade into the silence
I didn’t hear go off till
too late….

8 Responses to “Two Poems by Linda Lerner”

  1. Linda says:
    I am the author of thirteen poetry collections, the most recent from Iniquity Press / Vendetta books, Something Is Burning In Brooklyn, (2009), Presa Press, Living In Dangerous Times (2007) & from March Street Press, City Woman; (both a Small Press Reviews’ Pick of the Month) Because You Can’t I Will, Pudding House, (2005); they also published my Greatest Hits, 1989–2002. & “The Bowery & Other Poems”, (March Street Press,2004) ;
    In 1995, Andrew Gettler & I founded POETS on the line ( the first poetry anthology available on the internet. For Nos. 6&7 (1997/98) the Vietnam Veterans / Poets issue I received a 1997 Puffin Foundations Grant & Ludwig Vogelstein Grant. POETS on the line will be kept permanently on the Net, though it ceased publication with the Millennium issue, (9&10)
    My poems have / will recently appeared in Tribes, Onthebus, The Paterson Literary Review, The New York Quarterly, Home Planet News, Van Gogh’s Ear, Danse Macabre, et al.

  2. Linda, as always, it’s great to see that you’re still putting out great work!

  3. Hi Linda,

    good poem.

    how long has it been since we took a pic together at The Abandoned Planet Bookstore? Now close, in case you didn’t know.

  4. Such enjoyable poems, Linda. Your poems have always been strong!

  5. Hey Linda. You have to talk the right war for guy talk! It’been a few years since i dashed in there from Mercury Lounge where Grant Hart & I were oerforming. It seemed to me the food had all changed and there were no old Jewish men behind the counter who knew what made the place famous. I still have photo of your back in leopard skin top facing stage at The Bitter End when I was reading. Another long NYC night. Charles Plymell

  6. Carter Monroe Says:

    Excellent, excellent work here.

  7. Linda Lerner Says:

    Thank all of you for replying. This is an excellent site and has some very good poetry. No, A.D. I didn’t know the Abandoned Planet closed. that’s too bad. I recall the pleasant day we were there, pre 9/11–how I’ve come to date things.
    Charles, Katz deli is always very crowded and become a lot more expensive since you were there. A sandwich now cost $9.00, but the food is still excellent. And I do recall that night very well at the Bitter end when you were in town. I have very fond memories of it.
    Thanks for your comment Allen. It was nice to finally meet you in person at Pop culture in–Atlanta–I think it was, but not quite sure.
    I have a poem up at new verse news about the bomb scare in NYC I was caught in on May 1st heading to the theater, and the poetry bomb S.A. Griffin
    is transporting around the country.

  8. Great poems. Remember when you got lost in Cherry Valley with a friend after the big reading & I guided you back home? I may read Oct 2010 at the KGB Bar in NYC. Want to join the fun & meet the Mrs.? later amiga

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