October 20-26, 2003: Karey Stram and Michael Pacholski

week of October 20-26, 2003

Karey Stram and Michael Pacholski

click here for submission guidelines

Karey Stram

Bio (auto)

I’m 47 and live in Staten Island, New York I’m a free-lance writer/performer I write and perform poetry and some comedy I moved to New York to focus on my writing after many years as a defense attorney in Washington, DC To date I have two novels, a play, a few short stories and an awful lot of poetry-mostly unpublished

The following work is Copyright © 2003, and owned by Karey Stram and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

The Wreck of the Andrew Barberi

I took the last safe trip on the Andrew J Barberi
Which had been slogging back and forth
Across and back
the New York Harbor
For countless years

I’d slept in that morning
after a long night
Tip-tapping at my keyboard
Trying to put yet another
Unpublishable novel to bed

My subconscious must have gleaned
The perfect time for me to make my bi-weekly trek
Across the harbor
and into mid-town Manhattan

I pulled myself together and caught the 2:30 ferry

As I entered he terminal I tried to guess
Which vessel would be at the dock
The JFK I thought
No It was the Barberi
One of the newer, not so nice boats

Gale force winds were blowing across the water
I shivered in my late summer attire
Wishing I’d worn my sneakers
Instead of the too-large Tivas
Which look like rafts attached to my
Battered souls

I wondered how the gusty weather
Affected the ferry’s navigation
As the ship plunged through
Choppy waves on its way to South Ferry

Had I abandoned my errands and stayed on board
I might have been at the front of the boat
As it crashed into the dock on its return trip

If I’d known her fate
I would have wished her Godspeed
And farewell, stout friend
As I stepped upon dry land

Now I wonder if street musicians
Kept playing
like they did on the Titanic
As the ship hit the dock
Panic ensued and
Bodies flew
Over the deck
into the cold green swell

Luck was with me that day

I conducted my business
And subwayed back
to South Ferry
To find a confused crowd
Straining to hear a muffled message
that ferry service was


My heart dropped to my feet
I felt like a fetus with a
Severed umbilical cord
Or a junkie missing a fix

I had two bucks in small change
And ten empty fare cards in my pocket
I felt stranded
Left high and dry
Helpless as a babe
But only for a minute or two

Then I straightened my back
And followed the pack
Of marooned commuters
Out of the terminal
Towards Mecca?


I crossed my fingers
Asked strangers for advice
And found my way to the
End of the X-bus line
To wait, I presumed, for ages
And to worry about whether
I’d be permitted to ride

I pulled out my dime store novel
Preparing to suffer in silence
When low and behold
And X-8 huffed and grumbled
Up to the curb and opened its doors
Right at my feet

I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t say
“Oh no-these people behind me
have been waiting for oh so long


Grateful I was
for this promising twist of fate
and climbed into the bus
taking the last empty seat
Others behind me, more worthy,
would have to stand

No one grumbled
or condemned me as an opportunist
Perhaps they thought
they would have done the same
given the chance

There was a cheerful air on the bus
Those with radios or cell phones
disseminated information
about the shipwreck
and fellow travelers chattered and speculated
about the cause and the fate of the
passengers and the pilot

We settled in for what we thought would be
a long trip through Brooklyn
and over the Verrazano

But the night was young
And we were safe
And lucky
Not decapitated or dead
Or sopping wet from a spill
In the drink
Or stuck in a line of hungry
Angry, tired and cold commuters

Or firebombed
Or blacked out
Or 911-ed

We crossed the bridge
In less than half the time predicted

I got off at the first stop
To await another bus
Once again wondering
If I would be permitted
To ride for free

I gave 20 cents to a high school student
Who wanted to call home
And after I finally climbed aboard the 51 bus
My charity was rewarded tenfold
When a fellow traveler paid my fare

Cosmic Karma held fast that day

And if anyone tries to tell me
That New Yorkers are a
Grumpy, unpleasant, hard mouthed lot
I’ll say

Michael Pacholski


I’m Michael Pacholski I live in Gimpo, S.Korea (Bldg 313, Apt 101 if you want to go that far with it) I have a masters degree in creative writing from Illinois State University

The following work is Copyright © 2003, and owned by Michael Pacholski and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Who knows where this one will go
what words and labels should I stick
together to call lines
and to whom are these lines singing
lamentably like a croaking frog
staring at a fly on a glue pad and staring
is it him or you or me or that one
on the park bench using
a half loaf of moldy bread for a pillow
or that one
what are the listings
of the clean detoxed bums in royal rags
and absinthe dreamers wearing the green glitter
the long-haired longers and princes
the flea catchers
and future pallbearers of the street
who knows where these and future tides go
do tides bury their heads in the sand
when bigger tides swallow them
do they smack them
in the lips
who is that figure
in silhouette
far off
by the lighthouse
barefoot in the tides
did he skip a rock in the tide
was it a bottle
did he slash a piece of glass
across his neck
he went forward
and, from thereon,
blended like syrup in a tequila sunrise
I would have called out a name
to see if he would turn
but I knew no name
I knew no name for him

Subscribe to our weekly Newsletter: