Patricia Brody







She Was Doomed to Lose Her Head on a Cold Morning


In a walled garden, closed field.

Mary, her red wig    just so

her last-dash toilette —


Did she who gave the order

think of Anne, her mother

young,   high-colored,  in the end ignored,

on that other morning,

the monster already racing to mount,

huge on his bumpy pony

the new lady.


Truth is in the details.

The little dog, under her crumpled skirt

released to yap & yowl as his mistress

Finally finally

The strength of her sinew

the first blow,  the  second —

They had to lay her  on the ground

plump as she was,   lay her down   —

Stretch her out    to do the job.

The executioner unsure

A 3rd,   a  4th  – how many did it take?   They say   —

& whack her again

& whack her again —  —


Until at last  —       purple with sweat & rue

the sheepish worker  lifted up the globe —   streaming  —

What say the eyes   —       the neck  with its  —

the hazel eyes       before they close  —  windows  –   Quick,  Quit

&  stories of the  mouth,     moving      working   —

dog howled ,   ladies sobbed —


This is the scene of the cousin queen.

Who had,  we have to see,  toddled off at two

to greet the morning,        her tiny robe dragging in the dust.

Unsteady but determined,    to get where she would go.

To cut her way.

Following her own mum’s  —  equally raw departure   —

Earlier,    that same kind of day.





100th & Riverside


In the snow the mother

holds a fallen   still-warm

child      who is a man

his throat bared to the snow.

Snow falls on his naked arm

the hand

dangles to snow, heaped around her feet.

Her pieta,                  draped over

his mother’s frozen skirt.

Snow fills the cracks

his fire-protective

heavy gear     split by heat

scorched by the flame

that claimed him.


Evening gown sky

bare branches     bridal lace


snowing                    in the quiet.

Silent wedding

snow the veil.

The woman’s face called sacrifice


her jaw stern,      her eyes north-gazing

into the night of falling diamonds.

Behind her,   another age’s bronze:

the engine horses draw the men to fire.

Her boy is one of them

“in a war that never ends.”


She too is bare       from the waist up

her breasts of stone

her breasts of frozen milk

he nipples hard and icy as her stare.


Under the lacy,  muffling snow,

her young girl’s hair.




Previously published in Junctures: Journal for Thematic Dialogue, 2008.









when I heard about those boys,

how they were seized from their mothers in freezing

night ,  marched by the guards

into the gasp of hell.        They must have tried


to be brave —      —  in the fog,

if that could save them,

boys your age                      dragged from  bed               there are pictures

of the fathers  —      herded into the  public square

the fathers                with their last breath


covering their sons’  eyes with still-warm hands

so the sleepy boys              would see Death only

from the inside.


Here they come       your friends

learning how to show nothing.

You would kill me if you saw me watching.

Is it time to go

into the bush to kill your first lion,

time to step out

on the cold surface of the moon?  How will you know

which air to breathe?


— I used to breathe you, the powder smell


of your neck.

I’d tuck your bunny beside you:

Hush – – –       We’d read in the lamp’s yellow circle,

Goodnight Moon,    we sang against the dark.

Now you have to walk the cool walk.




Previously published in Adanna On-line, January 2012







Battle Scene with Cherries


Susan and I sit in lavender light, talking.

Since Saturday when we said they were peaking

the cherries have exploded more,  drenching

the air with Heavenly Punch we’d like to drink


or be reborn in (my birthday,  I won’t say I was peaking).

Pink blossoms tint the children’s skin, the light

air, with heavenly punch we’d like to drink,

rose-fruit, mauve, rose-gold, dusk.   Prayer light.


Pink blossoms tint the children’s skin. The light

quiets their play.  But we don’t give thanks,

for fruit, gold, dusk.  In prayer light,

cherry scent,  our people are falling.


The children quiet, we do not give thanks.

Again, the world says, again.  You are the cause.

We curse your fruit, your scent. Your people fall.

You are to blame for the world’s whole evil.


Again, the world says.  Again. You are the cause.

Susan frowns, not saying her lover’s people

are to blame for the world’s whole evil,

for the people turn on themselves.


Susan mourns, not saying her people,

their grief, will keep her childless.

People turn on themselves.

In petal-light like this, people fall.


Grief will be their only child.

What are we to do.   Bury our faces

in petal-light like this, while people fall.

We breathe in these cherries, sighing.


What are we to do?  Bury our dying

while cherries explode,  drenching

the air in heaven we can’t drink.

Let us sit in lavender light, talking.




Previously published in Pedestal Magazine, Political Anthology, October 2004.









“No prayers or incense rose up in those hours/  Which grew to be years,

and every day came mute – “    More Light! More Light!  Anthony Hecht


Try to forget how they stood like a sketch

against their neighbors’ sky.

Middle of the modern century — —

Informed, informal:    Einstein, jazz.


No dark-haired girl claimed to be chosen first.

No hurry to marry her mother’s has-been culture.

Her boyfriend just wished he could row the Danube

beside the other dreamboats in the club.


Crazy —- one day summer dresses,

in the window, risky necklines.

Paint, wet brushes,  twirled,  ready.

Natural bristles in the sun-drenched studio.

Doctor, social climber, sleek swimmer

Bodies,  work — “what’s for dinner…”

Each transformed,   say   — — this afternoon?

Swallowed     Hollow



Night.         Eyeless  night.


Yellow paint, yellow star.

Forget them,  in the fog.

They stand where they are.




*See accompanying photo : Shalekhet – Fallen Leaves  –by  Menashe Kadishman




        « Terror, » flip-phone photo by Patricia Brody, 2012











Installation Shalekhet (also spelled Shalechet) – Fallen Leaves —by Israeli artist, Menashe Kadishman at Judisches Museum, Berlin: “10 000 [hollow-mouthed] faces punched out of [burnt-flame colored] steel, heaped on the ground of the “Memory Void,” (the “voided” space).


Kadishman dedicated his artwork not only to Jews killed during the Shoah, but to all victims of violence and war.


Visitors are invited to walk on the faces and listen to the sounds created by the metal [leaf-slabs,] as they clang and rattle against one another.”,_Berlin






Patricia Brody ’s first poetry collection, American Desire,  was selected  by Finishing Line Books for a 2009 New Women’s Voices Award.  Her second collection, DANGEROUS TO KNOW, came out from Ireland’s Salmon Poetry  in 2013. Many of the poems are in the voices of “forgotten women writers.”


Barrow Street, Western Humanities Review, Paris Review, and online on Poetry Daily, Istanbul Review, and are some of the journals where Patricia’s work has appeared. Other poems appear in WOMPO Letters to the World and Chance of a Ghost, as well as in “non-lit” journals: Psychoanalytic Perspectives and International Journal of Feminist Politics.


Patricia would like to revive Survival of the Soul: Artists Living with Illness, an anthology of contemporary writing and art.


Currently teaching SEEKING YOUR VOICE: a Poetry Workshop, at Barnard College Center for Research on Women,

Taught English comp and American Literature for many years at Boricua College in Harlem. Lives mostly in NYC’s Washington Heights with art-director husband Tom Kostro and Siamese beauty, Tango – and – hopefully-frequent visits from three generous children.





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