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Three Poems by George Guida


Reverse Commute

My father studied years to be

a civil engineer, but then, because his brothers did,

became a cop, salaried. So we lived

not in a townhouse or cottage by the sea.


I was supposed to be a young man from a good family,

who might write about a father’s fame. Instead

I heard the hollow slamming of jalopy doors

in the driveway, waking me, how my father hid


his uniform in a leather doctor’s bag

and spoke to no one on a train I ride

the opposite way, to teach the privileged boys

whose lives I no longer care to learn.


The day of his bullet, my father came back

for a forgotten lunch. He stood in the kitchen,

under the yellow clock, his eyes, as I slung my books,

asking what in the world I would be able to do.



                                        Alec Baldwin’s Ghost


I took my cousin to her senior prom:        Massapequa, New York,

                                            hometown of Alec Baldwin,

                                                who must have been

                                                homecoming king.

We went with her deformity                         and wore gray and pink.


I never once the whole night thought             of anything but how my hair stood up

and how embarrassed I felt                               among someone else’s sometime friends.


Years later a friend told a story                         of how Baldwin had returned

to their college, his alma mater,                         how he'd sat in the commons,

                                                                                waiting to be seen,

when my friend approached                              the famous actor

and asked,                                 “Who are you?


Pink clouds slide through the clam shell sky

                                       like heartthrobs gone to seed

                                                                  on a shimmering beach

                                                                                             we mortals can only dream.

                                       Alec Baldwin used to summer here,

like me, come back to live                                 his fantasy

on a seagrass shore                                             at curmudgeon ease

until driven by divorce to                                  hate the shape of life.


                                            In his quest for peace,

I’d like to believe,                                                     a higher power sent him back

                                                  to Massapequa


                                             as I sit in my hometown

minivan parked on words                                     I should have spoken

with a younger tongue                                          on the road to Montauk

                                         as he ponders his next move

                                              in the kitchen of a Cape

I’d like to believe                                                    his family’s never sold,

I'd prefer not to be,

in this early hour of sunset                                   and late success


                                               Alec Baldwin’s ghost.



I heard her say, In Israel he lived on a caboose.

In the middle of the desert, a caboose.

He was a survivor. On a caboose.

She lives near the Long Island railroad.


Maybe that’s why she says

Woodmere is a Jewish stronghold.

They lived there until she got sick,

then moved to Del Rey Beach.


She has the book about Auschwitz

he wrote for the Museum.

They put him on a train

and killed his family.


He’s a survivor. He didn’t want to be

prosecuted, so he went to Israel.

When he saw what the caboose was like

he came here and married Sophie.


She was from Brooklyn.

People like her know you

get it when they hear

He was alone on a caboose.



George Guida has published four collections of poems, most recently Pugilistic (2015) and The Sleeping Gulf (2015). His prose books include Spectacles of Themselves: Essays in Italian American Popular Culture and Literature (2015) and The Pope Stories (2012). He is Professor in English at New York City College of Technology and Senior Advisory Editor of 2 Bridges Review

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