Tony Brush Park has Sinks and Restrooms by Jason Baldinger

Silsbe turned his car into an accordion
to fit the last free spot in Fairview
1-2-3 street,
American flags, Italian flags
sewn together,
Italian American, never forget

We were early for a reading
adventure in our hearts
East Cleveland, without a map
J & L fest, the feast of the assumption
the virgin mary never dies
she rides cloud cars to heaven
I don’t believe in heaven
but what if instead of dying
we all got to ride cloud cars

This is Little Italy proper
a street fair crammed into five blocks
Sublime is playing, I don’t feel Italian
I feel thirsty
In La Dolce Vita
Collins and Silsbe order beer
I order Stella Artois
if it’s good enough for Slayer
its good enough for me

Stella is awful
but its too hot for boozy beers
it is cold, it doesn’t taste bad
if you drink it quick
wipe the foam mustache away
I swear I catch a glimpse of
Marcello Mastroianni

Marcello, how did you end up in another poem?
I swear you were buzzing around toward the patio
sneaking furtive past the poster of Pavarotti/ Sutherland
that’s staring from the wall
ahh Marcello, beware false idols

Outside I think I see you in the alley
with the other old men
leering at teenage girls
in summer short shorts
placing bets
which ones
in back seats, yards and streets
under heat haze strings of glowing light
will lose their virginity tonight

Were you the priest
goth monotone through
church steps service
Was that the nicene creed?
Was it the prayer of the eucharist?

through him with and in him
all glory and honor is yours
almighty father
forever and everrrrrrrrrr

I think we need another bar
I think we need a patio, more cold beer
this is happening
people jam the streets
everyone who is working
everyone who is drinking
a pug ties a cherry stem with its tongue

I don’t know if I want to read poems
maybe I want to stay
in this strange catholic world
unstuck in time

I saw a room for rent
1929 1-2-3 street
the woman’s name: Maria Carletti
almost eighty, broken English
morning and evening church
a novena at two pm everyday
she believes no women in the rooms
and lights out at eleven
I sign the lease, lemon juice and powdered sugar
ahh maria, beware false idols

Silbe and Collins take off
Wedding Present blares from car window
accordion transform to Corolla again
I am free here
Disco Inferno on the street stage
six tickets for a hot sausage sandwich
five more for a ride on the Ferris Wheel

I wander down Euclid Avenue
up to Lake View Cemetery
as far west as Midtown
the city crawls
the university, the hospital
try to destroy East Cleveland
time rides a cloud car
the sky is a symphony
the embouchure of heat lightning
the skyline foxy in the dusk

I drink bad beer
give my heart to you, East Cleveland
pray rain heals stigmata
pray for rain
not something gentle
not even a summer storm
or a damn fine spring soaking
I want biblical rain
I want all of Lake Erie
dumped on my lap
I want
the clouds to remind me
Jb, beware of false idols

Jason Baldinger
Jason Baldinger has spent a life in odd jobs, if only poetry was the strangest of them he’d have far less to talk about. He’s traveled the country and written a few books, the latest of which are The Lower 48 (Six Gallery Press) and The Studs Terkel Blues (Night Ballet Press). A short litany of publishing credits include Blast Furnace, The Glassblock, Lilliput Review, Green Panda Press, Pittsburgh Poetry Review and Fuck Art, Let’s Dance. You can hear audio versions of some poems on Bandcamp, just type in his name.


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