Carl Rosenstock

The Mystery Of Systems

Once upon a time, on my way to work,
Or more properly, my way to the subway,
I froze. Nothing dramatic —
The magnet in my heart
Found iron under the street
And I was seized to the spot.

Once upon the way to my heart,
I found time seized,
Under the street. Nothing —
A properly dramatic magnet —
Froze my way to work.

Once nothing dramatic froze time — the iron
Under the subway — to the magnet
In my heart, I was seized
On my way to the street.

Once seized, my magnet heart
Under the street, I found nothing.
In time, the subway froze,

The magnet in my heart froze,
I found nothing dramatic.

Once I was nothing dramatic, I froze.

Fr. The Mystery Of Systems (CW Books)

Elegy For A Musician
in memoriam Patrick Chamberlain

I still don’t recall the weather then,
Only that it was October after
You were done with yourself and all
That was left when the wake had blurred

The absence of light was the event reduced
To murmurs, confusion, phone calls, photographs
That barely insinuate how you sounded when
Drunk and reeling in harmony we sang

In the few hours before sunrise. On stage,
Singing sweetly so that no one would ever
Leave you alone, how you believed the sound
Of your songs would still the crowd : for you,

A desperate act of love played against noise
Never drowned out, become so deafening
It exploded into silence.

Fr. The Mystery Of Systems (CW Books)


My baby reads psalms on her way to work
The train is crowded and Psalms fits
the palm of her hand     I watch her out of
the corner of my eye not wanting her
to know I see her in that moment

My baby reads psalms on her way to work
She says it gives her calm     I long for her
faith in holy words     I hold words
whole but read what’s at hand     a history
of the wind     ads overhead     a magazine

My baby reads psalms on her way to work
She says it calms her the way the words
sing belief and I believe her     Still
I read what comes my way       the news
over someone else’s shoulder

As published in Big City Lit, Spring 2015

About the Author

Carl Rosenstock was born in Albany, New York, and grew up on a farm near there. He received a B.A. in Asian History from Union College, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Vermont College. He lives and works on the westernmost end of Long Island, in Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies. He helped curate the Village Reading Series, and then curated the Night-&-Day Reading Series; and he was the Poetry Editor of Memoir Journal, as well as being on their editorial board. His first book, The Mystery of Systems, was published in 2017 by CW Books. To see more of his work, as well as purchase his book, please visit his website … & if you’re on Facebook, visit —

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