If it ain’t “Broke”

for The Brooklyn Paper
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“Leaves of Grass” is nice and all, but how long can Brooklyn hang its hat on one epic poem? Now there’s “Broken Land,” a compilation of verse edited by Julia Spicher Kasdorf, formerly of Fort Greene, and Michael Tyrell, a life-long Brooklyn resident.

While “Broken Land” does include work by the sainted Whitman, it’s also stuffed (at almost 300 pages!) with Brooklyn-themed work by well-known poets like Allen Ginsberg, Hart Crane and Elizabeth Bishop and contemporary poets like Derek Walcott and Marilyn Hacker.

One of our favorites, “About Brooklyn,” was written by Leo Vroman, a Dutch-born poet, that describes a summer in Sheepsead Bay — with expensive restaurants, over-crowded trains and beautiful array of tanned beach-goers from all over the world. We found it perfect for a summer that we wish would start already.

“About Brooklyn”

by Leo Vroman


A walk after late breakfast

Feeding on unaffordable food
or sleeping with a movie star
is probably, I said to her,
like living in a touristy neighborhood,

but still we walk to Sheepsead Bay.
The stream of Manhattan downtown
of living humans born brown
or becoming brown
carries us away,
strangers in a familiar

of American mouths that speak
Spanish, Russian, and Greek
while from their youthful necks are swaying
unbearably black coffins full
of unbearably loud singing

to fill and overfill the heat
with waves of over-amplified
dialogues of band and beat

bouncing off the open bay
fade as they pass
follow by a new subway
train-full of human mass.

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