Brooklyn Poetry Feature: Madeleine French

The following appeared in the Feb. 8, 2024 print edition of the newspaper:

This week, we feature the talents of poet Madeleine French:


As we reached Tompkins Avenue, a Dave Brubeck tune tinkled from a restaurant,

while a little further down a breeze unfurled yellow, orange and blue

embroidered skirts on the sidewalk outside a vintage shop.

Our restaurant patio shone with subdued light through an opaque white roof.

Even the butter lettuce gave a side eye to our muted words, as if it could tell

a melancholy errand brought us here. And our smiles might have been

a little stilted, until the gelato melted in our mouths and made them real.

Home now, I’m not summoning up the charming little bookstore,

with its colorful titles lined up on shelves and tables.

(New and used together, just as you’d have arranged them)

Or remembering the bass beat blasting from a block party’s speakers

as we walked by, vibrating with the breath in my chest.

I’m not picturing the toddler in pink tulle, holding her daddy’s hand,

reflecting the uncertainty of each hesitant step in her comical frown—

exactly as you once did.

Instead, I’m thinking of the shimmering quartz you parked on

your new white windowsill, just until you find the right place for it,

sparkling silvery diamond white next to your African violet.

Something beautiful in you might just be breaking open, too.

Art photography by Christine Stoddard.

“On Brooklyn Bridge”

Look at us, dressed for two different days

as if we’d watched dueling forecasts

I’m in a quilted jacket with jeans

while your flannel shirt

flaps in the breeze

over your tee and shorts

Puffy clouds cover the sky

like some preschooler went rogue

with the Elmer’s and cotton balls

Whatever, it all works

—even if no one can make you as mad

as I can—

Just keep walking over these wooden slats

as the bridge slopes toward South Street

the dark river glittering in the gaps

where the sun pokes its fingers

Art photography by Christine Stoddard.

“Your Heart, Across Prospect Park”


blush-orange clouds

crackled over Sarasota Bay,


I met six-thirty

from the wrong side.

In this dreamlight, I see you


your sidewalk’s crusted slush

in Brooklyn,


you’ve just set off

(chin tucked,

black hood bobbing)


your battered heart

across Prospect Park.


it’s a matter of timing

that’s all—right now, it’s

neither wrong, nor right


Seventh, wrinkling your nose

at exhaust fumes   


you’ll lift your eyes

when my rosy clouds paint

your rooftops


a movie, as a new dawn

slaps your cheek:

“Snap out of it!”


you’ll see it’s day breaking,

flushed and undone


your heart.    

Art photography by Christine Stoddard.

Madeleine French lives in Florida and Virginia with her husband. A Best of the Net nominee, her work appears in ONE ART, Dust Poetry Magazine, West Trade Review, Roi Faineant Press, Door Is A Jar, and elsewhere. She is working on a full-length poetry collection.

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