an on-line poetry magazine
for the 21st century

Winter 2023-2024

Richard Bronson


I have been shown…that you are the mother of five sons
who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
Abraham Lincoln

A West Side loft,
Hardwood floor –
Your studio, divided
By a gray curtain
Hung loosely on a rod.

We sat in rows
Of metal folding chairs,
A small audience.

Your troupe had withered,
Your name familiar now
Only to aficionados
Of the dance.

In a white T-shirt, black tights,
A wiry body, steel gray hair,
You spoke softly of your art.

What god
Possessed you
At the moment
An old man stepped behind
The curtain, returned

And as your voice rang out
From a reel to reel recorder
Reading Mr. Lincoln’s letter to Mrs. Bixby,
Your silent body told us
Of his grief—
The death of her sons,
Sacrifice of war,
Its need.

Richard Bronson is on the Faculty of the Center for Medical Humanities, Bioethics & Compassionate Care at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. He is a member of the Boards of the Walt Whitman Birthplace and the Long Island Poetry Collective and the current Suffolk County Poet Laureate.