Brooklyn Poetry Feature: An Ode to Brooklyn Bodegas

By Christine Stoddard |


Illustration by Christine Stoddard.

5 a.m., 10 a.m., 2 p.m., 12 a.m., the sight is much the same.

Behold, the faithful shop of city yore,

but still like the old days in this borough.

Not yet transformed by the wave of corporate magicians

and their wands summoning

chain after chain

and franchise after franchise

in Manhattan.

We prefer the grime and grit here.

The Brooklyn bodega welcomes you from

Greenpoint to Bed-Stuy to Sunset Park to Sheepshead Bay,

from Williamsburg to Crown Heights to Canarsie.

Enter the temple of pork rinds, popcorn, and plantain chips.

Row after row of sodas and energy drinks and beers beckon you.

Buy one snack or many and the boring necessities, too:

toilet paper, bleach, sponges, tissues, dish detergent.

Stay clean at any hour, or clean enough.

You don’t owe your landlord sparkles.

Order your lamb over rice,

your pastrami on rye,

your sopping mozzarella sticks.

The wait respects a New Yorker’s pace.

Go, go, go, go, go, go.

The guy grills faster than

the subway during rush hour.

Chop, chop, sizzle—

“Roll or hero?”

“White sauce?” “Hot sauce?”

Time to rush out, stuff your mouth as you bound through the streets.

Say good-bye for now, until back you come. Always come back.

The bodega is a humble place. A familiar place.

A place so entwined with thoughts of home.