Sunday, April 12, 2009

Something is Burning in Brooklyn by Linda Lerner

( Linda Lerner in Boston, Mass.)

“Something Is Burning In Brooklyn” by Linda Lerner. (Iniquity Press POBOX 54 Manasquan, N.J. 08736

Linda Lerner is an adjunct professor in the City College of New York system, and a dyed-in-the-wool small press poet with a number of collections out over the years. Her current collection is titled: “Something Is Burning In Brooklyn.” It deals with the demon of gentrification that has laid claim to her beloved borough of Brooklyn, a holy fool’s pursuit of a dream, and losing a mother to dementia, among other themes.
Since I am often barely ahead of gentrification myself, and will be experiencing it with the advent of a new subway line in my neck of the woods in Somerville, Mass., I appreciated Lerner’s poem “Around Every Corner Lurks A Science Fiction Story”. Here, there is a portrait of a 90- something man being evicted from his home. This is a tragedy that often doesn’t make the headlines, or the nightly news, but happens none-the less:

“someone forced out of his home
a 94 year old man on Licquer street
whose apartment a friend’s handshake
leased him decades ago for $500 a month
gets a $2000 monthly rent increase
by that man’s great grandchildren.

the old man watches his $800 a month pension
turn to play money and
swears he’ll sleep in his car
before leaving the neighborhood
he’s lived in for 90 year
there is less and less space for anyone to go…

it’s the law
the American law…”

In her accomplished closing poem: “With Apologies to Walt Whitman in 2003”, Lerner, unlike Whitman, does not hearing America “singing,” as the great poet did as he walked the streets of Brooklyn:

‘I don’t hear America singing
jogging down the streets of my city
a helicopter roaring over
heads wired to tune out
checking phones for a pulse….

I don’t hear the bard’s “melodious song”
from classroom minds uniformed for tests
who believe in the diploma
pray for the soul’s freedom from the body,
sing someone else’s song
the same song…”


Doug Holder/Ibbetson Update

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