the bake shop by t.j. masluk

Three Poems by T. J. Masluk

Black Spring
When the kilns closed,
they sat like Roman ruins,
nothing’s the same,
here, in America,
small towns folding,
spiritual malaise.
Kids dying of fentanyl,
narcotized in cyberspace.
Porches – no one there;
I see ghosts in rocking chairs.
Pigeons coo in the dark and dank
near what was once
a Tru-Blu brewery.
In rainy streets,
bells ring half-muffled,
lifelong friends gathered in black.
Big rigs careen
past gated swathes of greenery
and shrinking fields
of corn.
Past the churchyard’s
chemical stream,
no sprightly bluebells
just horrid blocks
of glass and steel,
crows pecking
the bloodied deer.
The Bake Shop
for Richard,
who lived and worked
by the tracks
On a typical day,
Norfolk Southern could be heard
thumping over wooden ties
like a steel heartbeat,
tall weeds bending in the wind.
Entering the tiny shop,
ninety-year-old legs come shuffling
from behind a curtain.
“Hello,” he says
in a faint frail voice.
“What’ll it be?”
He’d been in the dough business
for decades,
relieving his mom of duties
when she turned 99.
He made the prosphora
for church,
with the hands of a true artist.
He speaks of your dad and him
taking the stage in elementary school
at St. John’s,
learning their lines in Ukrainian
while memorizing poems
from the Kobzar.
Times were different back then,
no one leaving home
without a rosary,
only phones available
being the rotary kind,
in the only color available – black.
Looking around, you spot
several gold-blue icons
gracing the walls,
a glass-enclosed display
containing poppy seed roll
and pampushky.
All the while
a quaint sadness fills the air,
knowing the days are numbered,
his hands would work
no more.
Or is more
at stake?
“Strudel, please,”
you finally hear yourself saying,
glancing out the window
at the cracked sidewalks
of Newport Avenue.
Father’s Couture
for Dad
Father’s tools bide
in place,
as if awaiting his return.
The silent Singer
hints otherwise.
An oversized table
neath a flickering, fluorescent hum
fills the room,
grand like the Queen Mary,
scarred like an old war horse,
made of doors.
Shelves brim with oddities:
linen, cotton, silk materials,
pushpins and scissors,
magazine clippings,
buttons of all stripe
and color;
samples of linoleum,
cans of petroleum,
an “incorrupt” nut roll.
Among the orphaned,
like pillars of salt –
trapped in time.
How difficult the hour,
how difficult it is
moving on.
T. J. Masluk, poet and writer, has work appearing in The Columbia Review, Wisconsin Review, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Ekstasis, Writer’s Block Magazine, New Contrast, The Hong Kong Review, The Seventh Quarry, The Galway Review, in the anthology Without a Doubt (NYQ Books), and elsewhere. He’s from Northampton, Pennsylvania, has master’s degrees from Columbia University, a Ph.D. from Sofia University, and studied creative nonfiction at the University of Oxford. Further information about him may be found at: NYQ Poets – T. J. Masluk