Brooklyn Poetry Feature: Charles Elliott, Ann Bar-Dov & Jacob R. Moses

The following appeared in the Feb. 1, 2024 print issue:

In December 2023, the New York Times Magazine announced that it was ending its poetry feature after nine years. We asked Brooklynites to submit their poems to be published here. Due to the popularity of this feature, the series has been extended from its original January 2024 dates. Want to see your words on these pages? Make haste and send your submissions to [email protected]. This series will run as long as interest in it remains. Submission of poetry  does not guarantee publication. All accepted poems will be formatted in a way that best aligns with our newspaper layout.

This week’s featured poets are Charles Elliott, Ann Bar-Dov, and Jacob R. Moses.

“Born at Bushwick Hospital”

By Charles Elliott

January 12, 1946 was the day I was born

at Bushwick Hospital in Brooklyn – a charity

hospital not taking cleanliness seriously.

The place where my mother contracted

an infection then called “lying-in sickness.”

That day, the Brooklyn Eagle reported (on page 4)

that J. Edgar Hoover, even then the long-serving

director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI),

had endorsed 1946 Youth Week, sponsored

by the United Christian Youth Movement to promote

religious education. Hoover warned that churches

were reaching too few young people with their

indoctrinations and “this failure to make contact

with the citizens of tomorrow is producing

a fertile field for future crime. Youths too young

to vote accounted for 21.4 percent of the arrests

last year. Unless a concerted effort is made now

through the media of the church and the home,

these same juvenile delinquents may be

the hardened criminals of tomorrow.”

We lived in a third-floor walkup apartment at 472

Bainbridge Street until I was six years old.

Attended Bedford Central Presbyterian Church,

enjoyed the music of its beautiful big organ

(now wonderfully restored) until we joined

the White Flight to Levittown. My parents,

evangelical Christians, took me to church

in Brooklyn and elsewhere four times

each week for many years. But I was never

more embarrassed before my friends than

when my mother forced me to ride on a float

in the annual Sunday School parade

through our Brooklyn neighborhood. My parents

did everything they could to set me on the right path,

including shoving me into the aisle during

an altar call at a Baptist church, to make sure

I got “properly baptized.”

And yet, in 1971, I was the young journalist

(but no delinquent) who investigated J. Edgar

Hoover for columnist Jack Anderson. Rummaged

in Hoover’s trash at his home in Georgetown

(then no crime), staked out his house, interviewed

his neighbors and drew a scowl of disapproving

recognition from Hoover as he and Clyde Tolson

lunched at the Rib Room of the Mayflower Hotel

up on Connecticut in D.C.

The historic Bushwick Hospital building of my advent

still stands. At 41 Howard Avenue, the structure,

in an Italian Renaissance revival style, now

re-tasked to a purpose that some might suggest

is appropriate to my birthplace, re Hoover’s

remarks. By the time New York State acquired

it in 1968, the failed hospital was gone.

The building born again as the Bushwick

Nursing Home. But after that, according to

an October 29, 2014 news report: “It’s now

a placement center for juvenile delinquents.”

That mission renewed, continues. Now

a Youth Bureaus facility – the Ella McQueen

Reception Center for Boys and Girls.

My proud birthplace.

Charles Elliott’s poetry has appeared most recently in Synkroniciti Magazine and the American Poetry Journal. his work also has been featured in the Paris-based journal Levure littéraire, Chiron Review, Potomac Review, Aethlon, the New York Times, and two anthologies. Elliott reads his poems at https://www.youtube.com/user/beautyseer and administers https://www.facebook.com/The.Poetry.Cabin and a related Twitter account, @ThePoetryCabin. Elliott also has published three history books on Southern California topics and won awards for poetry, journalism, and fine art photography.

 

“Sheepshead Bay, 1976”

By Ann Bar-Dov

Sheepshead Bay, eight p.m.

Evening fog comes drifting in.

Familiar streets and houses, lost in a cloud…

Hoot of a foghorn, screaming gulls,

dirty green waves slapping at fishing boat hulls,

shouts of the fishermen echo across the water.

Old frame houses facing the bay

slide a little more sideways every day.

Screen doors and shutters creaking in the wind…

Sidewalk’s broken and buckled. Weeds grow in the cracks.

There’s sand in the gutters, and empty six-packs.

Someone’s old Chevy’s rusting by the side of the road.

I’d spend my days knocking ‘round Manhattan,

pushing and being pushed around.

Then I’d take that long train ride back to Sheepshead Bay,

walk around the streets and feel myself calm down.

Sheepshead Bay, eight p.m.

Evening fog comes drifting in.

Familiar streets and houses, lost in a cloud….

Sheepshead Bay, lost in a cloud.

Originally from Brooklyn, Ann Bar-Dov has lived in Israel since 1976 and in the Galilee since 1983. After 38 years spent teaching everything from kindergarten to yoga to Public Health, she has finally retired and can devote real time to writing.

 

“Sheepshead Bay, 2020”

By Jacob R. Moses

Took the Q train to

Roll-N-Roaster just so I

could get lemonade

Jacob R. Moses is a poet and spoken word artist from Staten Island, NY. Publications featuring his work span 18 countries. He is the author of the full-length poetry book, Grimoire (iiPublishing, 2021). Jacob is a recent graduate from Southern New Hampshire University with an MA in English and Creative Writing.

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