Six poems by Sugar Tobey

Here and There

There weren’t any benches
when I used to sit by the river
the city was broke I was broke

tough crazy homeless people
used to sleep and drink take drugs
and tell you their wild stories there

money’s back now so I relax on a new bench
put here by the city and watch young professionals line up
for dinner on old boats now floating restaurants

these kids seem nice clean fresh and healthy
and yet you can tell by looking at them
you’re never going to get any wild stories here

In the Kitchen

A raggedy bathrobe his giant old belly hanging out
droopy socks varicose veins bulge
and fearless eyes if you bother to take a look

an old man washing the diner plates now
years ago he walked across Poland with a raging fever
just to escape the nazi’s

he looks at me and says smiling
that was a good meatloaf wasn’t it
he looks tired I can’t picture him young

over coffee and cake
I wonder if he is afraid of or if he welcomes the end
many times he said the only thing to be wary of in this world
is people

Midnight in Brooklyn

Mike’s the supers’ wife died a few months
before I moved into the building
I miss her a lot he said they were very close

I Saw the muddy shovel by the back steps
You doing some work around the building
Mike gave me a funny look through his cigar smoke

the dog just died he said she loved that dog
she wanted it buried with her
so I took care of it

Mike had broken into the cemetery
up the block sometime after midnight
dug a hole and buried the dog next to his wife

I admire you Mike I told him you got guts
he gave me that look through the smoke again
man you know you love somebody right

Sitting in the park

Coming closer and growing larger
he was struggling to reach me
a tattered old man crossing a windy field

now close enough and with no life left
in his withered face he spoke
never co-sign a loan he said

then the wind
seemed to blow him
and his message away

Spring Lounge

When we drank
we never took much notice of each other
but now side by side we looked in the window
of the new spring lounge bar
hoping we were wrong

it’s really gone isn’t it
yeah the old bar is gone
cleaned up by the new owners
for tourists and rich kids

then putting his hand on his heart
he said better it had burned down
better the whole city burns down
and we start all over again

Working in New York

It looked like a small snake
or something horrible sticking up
in the middle of the sidewalk
a thin wiggling strip of flesh

as I got closer I saw
it was the tail of a rat
busy working beneath a crack
in the hollowed out concrete

unknown to him or her
their little tail was
poking up in the air
for the whole city to see

Sugar Tobey, born in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Received a degree from the School of Visual Art in Manhattan. Now lives in NYC above a pizza parlor.

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