Brighton Blues

by Christopher Bacas “Eets beeg place. Millennium Theater. Brighton Beach. You see it. We start seven. Very good band. Leader has gigs coming up. I tell him you coming.” Ivan gave me specs and I agreed to make it. Lack of guaranteed money, opportunity, entertainment, enlightenment or even a ride home won’t stop a true…

Callous Doughboys Band

by Christopher Bacas I stayed out late the night before I left for college, saying goodbye to friends whose future included institutions even more punitive than mine. My parents packed my belongings in two long, green army duffel bags purchased at “Sunny’s Surplus”, where you could buy Afro picks with folding handles, decommissioned grenades and…

Where I Come From: Part 2

by Christopher Bacas The William Penn High School Marching band was a juggernaut, the coolest team in school. Its director, Holman F James, strode the football field, unzipped windbreaker, cigarette dangling, the Greatest Generation’s bandmaster. A sterling musician, he played trumpet and piano, wrote or arranged all the music and choreographed our field shows. He…

Where I’m from

by Christopher Bacas In the fall of 1970, I brought a Bundy tenor saxophone home from school. I was nine and in Mrs Farrar’s 5th grade class. To celebrate, my father slid an LP called “Soultrane”out of a blue and white cardboard jacket. The first sounds from the record player’s single speaker: a muscular folk…

Sam’s Club

by Christopher Bacas As a child, I feared dogs. A neighbor kept his German Shepherds, Heidi and Sarge, in a large pen along the alley. The yard and house, his parents’, were the biggest for many blocks. On the alley side, the chain link fence stood 10 feet. The dogs would charge out of their…

Where do you live?

by Christopher Bacas Because we remained so long in Housing Court’s trash-strewn orbit, Management assigned us our own agent. Every week, I saw Hassidim in our lobby. One was bigger than the others, with a jellied midsection spilling over pants, bowing his long black lapels. He moved like a man barely acclimated to walking; legs…

Poem

Subway Haiku Five times doors open And five times they quickly shut The Speaker crackles Crossroads of the world Four languages on my bench Train to JFK Many tired folks, Long hours and they can’t rest yet, “start spreadin’ the news” Every type of eyes: Closed, squinting, staring, empty, Downcast, roving, hard Dude: Yankees’ cap,…

Besame

by Christopher Bacas We make unplanned pilgrimages; a friend, job or tragedy send us barefoot around sacred mountains. Eyes fixed on the path, we’re prevented from losing our way by loyalty, diligence or grief. Anyone we pass is possibly the most important person we will ever (not) meet. A job: play half-hour concerts; moving from…

Where Do You Live: Part 3

by Christopher Bacas Eviction begins with a sheaf of papers, hand-delivered, addressed to the tenant, known thereafter as “Respondent”. Attorneys employ a process server to ensure proper service. Any improprieties are grounds to dismiss and the Petionner files anew. Respondents often agree to waive this technicality. They are standing in front of a judge in…

Brooklyn Nights

by Christopher Bacas On Flatbush Avenue, the dollar vans squawk and beep, threading through traffic. City buses stream rectangles of blue-white light across the storefronts. From dim upper floors, blinds drawn, shadowed, comes music: brass band with coro. Tuba burps madly: a bullfrog virtuoso looking for lovers. Beneath an awning, they sit by a glowing…

Flood on the Tracks

by Christopher Bacas There’s a sidewalk grate in Beverly Road station. Train sounds rise; squealed intervals evaporating as you pass. Underground, sun squeezes through the grid like skin pressed on a window screen. On the brightest day, its gutter brims gold, but never overflows. During heavy rains, the station’s walls sluice water that puddles next…

Losing Orchid

by Christopher Bacas On a cloudy November afternoon, the runaway dog headed south through a Victorian Brooklyn neighborhood. Shuttling down sidewalks, a black spindle unwinding in lengthwise turns. Legs, wisps of yarn, whipping down, then up into the skein. Scuff and click of paws un-synced to their motion; lightning flashes before the charge splits air.…

The Pit: Pt 2

by Christopher Bacas The boss' daughter, Cherie, came with a warning label. A coworker, who babbled endlessly about evil Ayatollah Khomeini and our hostages, told me: "She's a piece of work. Just let her take whatever she wants and stay the fuck outta her way." One night, twenty minutes before closing, a woman's head appeared…