Two Poems by Frederick Pollack and a Photo by Julie Gautier-Downes

Multimedia, Poetry


"37° 53' 57.7"N 119° 05' 39.5"W" from the series, "At a Loss," by Julie Gautier-Downes
“37° 53′ 57.7″N 119° 05′ 39.5″W” from the series, “At a Loss,” by Julie Gautier-Downes


Funky Music

The major building on that block

shows what concrete can do:

occlude the reflectiveness

of glass, two hundred panes of which

it houses like a skull with many sockets;

say nothing for three hundred feet

and fourteen floors but “I am here

and grey.” The sidewalk, unrelieved

and wide, restates the same idea.

Sometimes you know the central

purpose of such places,

but as you pass you’re probably

no one, so we can say no one knows.


You might think as you pass that time

is a lens, that a certain

quantum of energy will bear you

to the corner with minor but

determinate wear and tear

on heart, joints, nerves,

and shoes, that Hindus believe a man has

a finite irreplaceable amount of sperm,

that history likes to hide

in the normal, the unexceptionable,

the cheap, and if one decodes it

one may become invulnerable

and callous; but why should you think this?


The lobby has thank God no art;

only, in a stone planter,

a dark green plant one could look at

and cheer on, hour by hour, cell by cell.

There are also two black men

in a company’s uniform, one seated;

the other pacing here and there,

always facing the door. Once he would have

had to serve time as well as the building

with all his soul. Now a wire

from his phone to the ear

unoccupied by his boss’s wire

keeps him in touch with the world or something.


The Young Master

I’m said to favor my mother,

but in her day there were no photographs

and her portrait was done without genius.

Papa is a set of conditions,

like Homer, games, cold baths,

cold porridge, horsemanship, and buggery

at school. God is a hypothesis

I have no need of; He is also love.

On the day of my majority I stand,

booted and spurred, by Father’s desk, refusing

the tea his loyal Sepoy brings,

and tell him I will shortly be resigning

my commission: I have no taste

for the dusty East, for things insufferable.

Red-faced, he starts to ask how I intend

to live, but dies instead. Exchanging

a look with the servant (he too

subtle, untraceable), I raise,

distraught, the alarm. Weeks later

I walk the grounds, which, over years and wars,

I improve. I try, successfully,

my hand at novels: last stands,

veiled maidens, bugles, likely lads,

death abundant but tasteful.

With the homely psychology of that era,

people say I regret

the tragedy that kept me from the colors.

They’re wrong, but it’s their duty to be wrong.


Julie Gautier-Downes was born in San Diego and relocated to New York City in 2001, prompting her bi-coastal identity and interest in perceptions of home. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2011 and her Master of Fine Arts in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2014.

Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press; a collection of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, 2015 from Prolific Press; and another collection, LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT, to be published by Smokestack Books (UK), 2018. His work has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology(Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), Iota (UK), BateauMain Street RagFulcrum, and others.