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Poems of the Week

Faggot

As when a word lifts unexpectedly
________________________or implodes—
you had meant to say maelstrom but now
interposed between you and the open world,
male storm (no one would think to give a sex
to it, so were unready)—that was its arrival,

_____________________________fire
that didn’t act as one sheet but gathered
separately as flames around some common matter:
call it a heart, make this a Catholic scene, only the thorns
are missing unless they lie, like everything else,
beneath this oil-slicked water now risen, now ignited, as we are
ignited—like faggots thrown at the sinner’s feet
as he shakes, as he shouts It was only for love, as when all words abandon . . .

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Rickey Laurentiis
was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is the recipient of several fellowships, including the Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Chancellor’s Fellowship from Washington University in St Louis, where he received his MFA. The author of the e-chapbook, Whipped, (Floating Wolf Quarterly), his individual poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Callaloo, Fence, jubilat, The Kenyon Review, The New York Times, Oxford American, Poetry and other journals.

CANARY

I held my canary out for you when you said your canary felt a little droopy.

Your canary was a ruby drop in my frosty glass of canary.

The canary between us grew for many days.

I wanted to fight the canary, but you held me back.

The officer shot the unarmed canary on a canary I used to walk down every day.

When you touched the canary underneath my knee, a balloon filled with canary in an eastern corner.

The sound of unmarked canaries overhead frightened the rural hospital.

The president has never commented publicly on the controversial canary program.

Can you remember where that canary was that we tried so many years ago?

Oh, that canary feels so good—just like that.

The canaries carry electricity to our houses in even smaller canaries.

When the activists passed out yellow canaries I took one and read it.

A canary is born every 8 seconds.

I log onto the large canary to check how my canary is faring.

When I go to the supermarket, I check the codes on the canaries to make sure they are not genetically modified canaries.

Many canaries suffer.

She pressed a thumb into my muscle and all the canary was released into me.

When I went outside I saw the sky. It was filled with canary.

You held the canary up to my face. You vibrated the canary at a new frequency.

You said the best time for canaries was 11:30 am.

___________________________
Emily Skillings
is a dancer poet poet dancer.  Recent poetry can be found in No Dear, Bone Bouquet, Lingerpost, Stonecutter, La Fovea and Maggy. Skillings dances with Saifan Shmerer, the A.O. Movement Collective and The Commons Choir (Daria Faïn and Robert Kocik). She lives in Brooklyn, where she is a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, a feminist poetry collective and event series. She is a co-curator of the Brooklyn reading series HOT TEXTS with Krystal Languell. On July 25, 2013, she and her collaborator Lillie De will perform their dance theater piece (being fluid and knowing what to fill) at Dixon Place.

EVERYONE LIKE HER

I just had a little of your chocolate
and now I’m wild with desire
for more chocolate
it goes right to the discomfort
sweetens it I think.

The moon’s on
a short white leash
and what happens
to everyone
happens to you.

You’re gonna die too.

I’ll make you a tape
to play
when you say my name
slowly
like I’m stupid
like dogs are stupid
like the homeless are stupid
you’re always calling
everyone stupid.
And you are kind of
a lunk
big medium
mind.
I’ve been tuning you out
since I was a sperm
That’s why I can’t listen well
all your talk
you made it vulgar
to speak
talking in your sleep
when the fear cartoons play
talk when you wake up
talk
talk
hate is real
it’s an actual thing
and I really do
I hate you.

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Leopoldine Core was born and raised in Manhattan. Her poems and fiction have appeared in Open City, The Literarian, Drunken Boat, Sadie Magazine, Big Lucks, iO, Harp & Altar, The Brooklyn Rail, Agriculture Reader, No, Dear and others. She is a 2012 Fellow at The Center for Fiction and at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her chapbook Young Friend is forthcoming from Perfect Lovers Press.

The open sound of French

Even the sound of French is open
And the children find me very interesting to look at
It is as if I am a TV show or supper
All my pretty babies who paint the winter chests
With red and gold and green

It was on the afternoon
In the small wooden town
That I was so mired in my act of jealousy
I did not pay attention
To the beauty of the dark church in front of me

And now you ask me
To meet you in a park after dark
Well it is too late too late
I am already flying

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DOROTHEA LASKY is the author of three full-length collections of poetry: THUNDERBIRD (Wave Books, 2012), AWE (Wave Books, 2007) and Black Life (Wave Books, 2010). She is also the author of five chapbooks, including Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Ducking Presse, 2010). Born in St. Louis in 1978, her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Laurel Review, Columbia Poetry Review, and Boston Review, among others. She is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and also has been educated at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University and Washington University. She has taught poetry at New York University, Fashion Institute of Technology, The New England Institute of Art, Heath Elementary School, and Munroe Center for the Arts. Currently, she lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

The Food Pantry

Don’t have to go to the food pantry anymore.

Got a job
bringing people to the food pantry.

____________________________________________
Dave Roskos is the editor of Big Hammer Magazine & Iniquity Press/Vendetta Books. He lives in his home state of New Jersey where he works as a Life Skills Specialist in the mental health field. His most recent chapbook, INTENSIVE CARE, was published by Black Rabbit Press in 2010.

Like I Said

Okay, so it’s Sunday. I didn’t
go to church. I’m an Irish Catholic,
I know about sin, but I was tired and
just didn’t feel like getting dressed.

On Thursday night, I fell and broke
a slat from the garden fence. My
hip still hurts – the bruise is as big
as my Yorkie’s head.

That would have been enough, but
this morning the vacuum coughed up
a hairball and quit. The only food in
the fridge is a bearded yogurt.

The washing machine refuses to spin.
There’s no clean underwear left, so
I’m not wearing any. Like I said,
I was tired; I didn’t feel like getting

dressed, so I didn’t go to church and
abdicated rights to all that grace.
I put on a pair of dirty jeans, a dirty
shirt, and sat outdoors all morning.

I did nothing but talk to my dogs,
watch squirrels, and wonder what it
might be like to nibble Prozac from
Johnny Depp’s lower lip.

(From What Matters, Welcome Rain Publishers, 2011)
_______________________________________________
Adele Kenny is the author of twenty-three books (poetry & nonfiction) with poems published in journals worldwide, as well as in books and anthologies from Crown, Tuttle, Shambhala, and McGraw-Hill. A former creative writing professor, she is founding director of the Carriage House Poetry Series and poetry editor of Tiferet. Among other awards, she has received two poetry fellowships from the NJ State Arts Council and the 2012 International Book Award for Poetry. Website:  www.adelekenny.com Blog: www.adelekenny.blogspot.com

Pictures of a Fireman

Grandma said his eyes rose
like moons above the rim of his glasses
when he leaned over the table
at the pool hall the first time they met,
called every shot. I remember him
descending from a cloud
on a ladder of flames
with a woman in his arms,
clipped from the front page
of the Newark Evening News
and framed on their living room mantle.
Or as he was in the photograph I found
in an attic album of him tending register
behind the bar of a speak-easy,
his eyes dark, cheeks flushed,
grinning back at the camera
as if he owned the place.
I see him seaside, sometimes,
up to his knees in weekend surf,
his white, button-down shirt
flapped open like the wings
of a Great Egret, fishing pole bowed,
tip sparkling like a cufflink on a cloud
as he tugs at the ocean, hair black
and slicked back, as it always was,
even at his wake. I can’t recall his voice
or a single thing he told me,
but I dangle on the soft lines of his face,
the dark-spotted skin, drawn thin
about his hands, how they would shake,
his cup and saucer rattle, steaming coffee
splash against the rim, and how his eyes
would rise above his glasses
like apologetic white flags,
then fall away from mine
as he leaned in cautiously for a sip.

NOTE: This poem originally appeared in NYQ.

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John Smith lives in Frenchtown, NJ with calligrapher Catherine Lent. He has three daughters. John Smith’s poetry has appeared in numerous literary magazines and has also been anthologized in Under a Gull’s Wing: Poems and Photographs of the Jersey Shore and Liberty’s Vigil: The Occupy Anthology. His poem, “Lived Like a Saint,” which appeared in The Journal of New Jersey Poets, was set to music by Philadelphian composer, Tina Davidson, as part of a choral work, Listening to the Earth, commissioned by the New Jersey Parks Commission. John’s poetry has been in NJ Audubon since the late 1980s. His poem “Birding” was commissioned by New Jersey Audubon for their centennial.

don mee choi bio pic

from Diary of Return

August 8, 2002

I arrived below the 38th parallel.  Everyone and every place I know are below the waist

of a nation.  Before I arrived, empire arrived, that is to say empire is great.  I follow its geography.  From a distance the waist below looks like any other small rural village of winding alleys and traditional tile-roofed houses surrounded by rice paddies, vegetable fields, and mountains.  It reminded me of home, that is to say this is my home.

Close up: clubs, restaurants, souvenir and clothing stores with signs in English, that is

to say English has arrived before me and was here even before I had left.  PAPA SAN, LOVE SHOP, POP’S, GOLDEN TAILOR, PAWN.  I followed the signs and they led to one of the gates to Camp Stanley, a heliport, that is to say language is not be to believed but to be obeyed, and to compel obedience.  A woman in her seventies lived next to LOVE SHOP. She was taking an afternoon nap.  She has never left below the waist and eventually came to be regarded as a great patriot by her government, that is to say she followed the signs and suffered from lice infestation during the war and passed the lice on to the GIs.  I followed the houses that reminded me of home.  They led me to another metal gate and barbed wire.  Another woman was having lunch at My Sister’s Place.

She did not remember which year she had returned except that she remembered hearing about the assassination of our Father, that is to say she was here and I was still elsewhere and the unity of language is fundamentally political.  She told me a story with her right index finger.  Her finger fiercely pointed to her mouth, then between her spread legs, and then her behind.  She had no choice under the GI’s gun, that is to say she had no choice about absolute choice, that is to say her poverty was without choice and when absolute choice was forced upon her she chose a GI, that is to say she chose empire because empire is greater than our Father, that is to say she followed and left her daughter to its geography and her index finger had no choice but be fierce under absolute choice, that is to say she had arrived home.

 

Italics: Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (Minneapolis & London: University of Minnesota Press, 1987).

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Don Mee Choi is the author of The Morning News Is Exciting (Action Books, 2010) and the recipient of a 2011 Whiting Writers’ Award. She has received the 2012 Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize for All the Garbage of the World, Unite! by Kim Hyesoon. Her translations also include Anxiety of Words published by Zephyr, When the Plug Gets Unplugged & Princess Abandoned by Tinfish, and Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers by Action Books.

basile pic

LOURDES

Matthew is plain on the tongue and fleeting.

Lourdes sits, instead of sex, on two blue crates,
feeds herself blue lemons. Lips sodden,

she bathes. She tastes the burn
in the lantern of her chest.

Lourdes snakes straight through the garden into her own bed

opens her dignities and pleasures
like guava

white cotton underwear
___to the side
open with pulque

wet of cachaca
without the sugarcane,

& boys with biblical names
make no appearance,

especially Matthew,

a worn worm soldier jamming its way
into the core of a ripe melon.

____________________________________
Lisa Marie Basile
 comes from the bloodline of Giambattista Basile, the fairy-tale writer. She is a graduate of The New School’s MFA program. She is the author of Andalucia (Brothel Books) and Triste (Dancing Girl Press). Her chapbook, war/lock, is forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press in 2014. She is the founding editor of Patasola Press, an assistant editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal and a managing member of the Poetry Society of New York.  She contributes to a few secret projects and wears Joseph Quintela’s #bookdress.

hecker biopic

Conscientious Protests
–after Julio Cortazar

What a conscientious protest: marketing One A Day vitamins to death-row inmates,
performing a little Crip Walk when security wands the standing body like a barcode,
listening to the bald deputy bad-mouth his own root canal that hasn’t happened yet.

What a conscientious protest: naming each bandoleer bullet after the cast of Soap:
Jimmy Baio lodged in a Basra watermelon, Diana Canova blew off a man’s wrist in
Mosul, Billy Crystal jammed in the barrel and fell out of the muzzle looking like a nickel
run over by a combine harvester, Robert Guillaume killed two relatives hugging in
Karbala (through his back and out of hers), Richard Mulligan and Katherine Helmond
fired into the air together as a warning to nobody.

What a conscientious protest: making The Today Show explain itself as a concept,
justify its existence as a time passage in the Milky Way galaxy, codify its moment
in culture and divulge its intentions for providing baking tips, 5 easy steps to person-
alize refrigerator magnets, polarizing soccer moms with a well-placed kidnapping
statistic conducted specifically for one county in Kentucky, then cut to commercial
on an awkward boy holding a sign: “I came all the way from Nag Hammadi Library’s
heresiology section to meet Willard Scott since I’m Mithra and I do whatever I want.”

What a conscientious protest: Occupy Ebenezer Place in Wick, Caithness, Scotland,
credited as the shortest street in the world at 6 ft., 9 in. In boots and hoodie, my 6 ft.,
4 in. frame disrupts miserliness, auto and pedestrian traffic, Tuesday trash collection.

____________________________________________________
Jeffrey Hecker
was born in 1977 in Norfolk, Virginia. A graduate of Old Dominion University, he’s the author of Rumble Seat (San Francisco Bay Press, 2011) & the chapbook Hornbook (Horse Less Press, 2012). Recent work has appeared or forthcoming in La Reata Review, Mascara Literary Review, Atticus Review, La Fovea, The Waterhouse Review, Zocalo Public Square, The Burning Bush 2, Turtleneck Press, and LEVELER. He resides in Olde Towne Portsmouth, Virginia

Kim Vodicka bio pic

E N T I T L E D:

LET’S DRINK AND FUCK

Lucille Baller,
a walking bowel movement.

All the pretty girls and the Mardi Gras, too.

Bitches go hard. Bitches fat it out, too,
when push comes to love.

Never let the truth
get in the way of
your eyes.

Paris is burning, and we shan’t be home tonight.

You cut me I bleed perfumania.

I want a normal happy life,
I either wanna wife and children,
or I wanna rich and famous,
or I wanna be had.

To make some impression, some mark upon the world,
all you have.

You hit it big, you anal bleach.
Paris is burning, and we shan’t be home tonight.

Sometimes you prom yourself to sleep.

The girl with two heads has also two hearts.

And all that vajiggle jaggles most beautimously.

Gotta loosen up this making face for everything.

So if we’re all going to hell, well
well then,
okay, then
okay.

We are perfectly troubled of contents,
there.

Ever since I felt your lisp on my lisp
down the bury the hatch.

We wear a strawberry letter.

Poised and elegant are the jonquils
in yellow and green repose.

Poised and elegant are we, reposed,
unblessed.

Oh but yes, I do, and t’ruly bleed love,
still I cannot b’leed all,
so be still, my heart.

Stand by your,
your not-man.

If all the raindrops were lemon drops and cum shots,
oh, what a—
oh.
Well then.

My spirit faggot is the world that ain’t all Ferris wheels or Bueller’s
day off.

When the things of our adore of nor concern
are all for goodness sake’s.

The hope that was the one bright awesomely,
the light.

Paris is burning, and we shan’t be home tonight.

All
is full
of hate.

And it ain’t rape
if you scream
HOLD UP, WAIT.

Whatever,
quoth the raven,
whatever,
my dog ate my willpower.

I slut shame belief.

The fucks you give are costly.
The fucks you don’t don’t cost a thing.

Fuck don’t cost a thing,
except your life, maybe,
but it was worth it, maybe
you’re worth it.
Maybe she’s born with it.

Full blown roses and/or AIDS.

Maybe it’s Makebelieve.

Bitches go hard. Bitches fat it out, too.

The fat one,
the black one,
the hot one,
the one.

Bitches go hard. BITCHES FAT IT OUT, TOO.

And it won’t stop.
And it can’t stop.

Stop it.

So their bacchanal was a debacle,
there was nothing with which to peel the bananas,
no shadowplay from which to venture forth.

So if you don’t like what’s on the table,
you better find a McDonald’s
and a roll of paper towels.

Some redeeming social value.

Have your infinities mammogrammed yearly.

___________________________________________________
Kim Vodicka grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana and received her B.A. in English from UL Lafayette in 2010 and her M.F.A. in Poetry from LSU in 2013. During her time in Baton Rouge, she coordinated Delta Mouth Literary Festival, hosted a psychedelic rock show, “Shangri-La-La Land,” on KLSU, and interned for Dig magazine. Her artwork has been published in Tenderloin, and her poems have been published in Shampoo, Ekleksographia, Dig, Spork, Unlikely Stories, and RealPoetik. Her first book, Aesthesia Balderdash, was published in June 2012 by Trembling Pillow Press.

bibliophile pic

Elizabethton, Tennessee, 1929

When wages sank and conditions became intolerable, women led a strike of the Glanzstoff Textile Mill. While their menfolk’s anger often erupted in violence, women used laughter and bold defiance of conventional feminine behavior as weapons against a bewildered National Guard, which was made up of their neighbors until backup was called. Though prosecutors branded them “wild” and “disorderly,” the women earned support from their pastor, sheriff, fellow townspeople, and local merchants.

Those big companies sprang like arrows
into the heart pine of Appalachia,
shaking hands with homegrown ambition,
eyes popping for our breasted hills,
sinewy creeks, and I suppose for what they saw
as backward-walking mountain folk.
They knew we had few laws to cry
for what a man ought give,
and no union to guard
what no man should take. No woman here
lines her closet with pretty things bought in town
or strings the hollows with high hopes.
A straight wage and a level word
we earned wading the chemical baths
that pull plain cellulose to clean filaments of rayon,
to stockings and bolts of color cloth.
We pulled that stuff, and when words ran out,
we shut the mill down, lined up like vertebrae
across the road.
They came with tear gas, nearly putting out our eyes,
but we stood, by God, stood laughing
at the National Guard -
boys who’d sat next to us in school,
who’d pitched rocks into the Watauga River,
one of them father to my children ten years ago.
For my divorce,
and our backtalk,
for shoving away soldier’s guns stuck in our faces,
they called us “lewd,”
and, red-faced, ordered us to walk 12 miles to jail.
We said no.
Later, raises never showed.
Management one-by-one scattered our girls
to the fields and washtubs,
bending our backs, biting our tongues.
But I knew what I was doing and I don’t deny it:
the six weeks we worked for ourselves
and stood for each other,
echoes of our shouts disappearing
like the longleaf pine
while we laughed, boys,
we just laughed and laughed.


__________________________________________________
Cesca Janece Waterfield is a journalist, poet, and songwriter based in Virginia. She has been selected three times to receive songwriter grants from The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). She is the author of Bartab: An Afterhours Ballad (Two-Handed Engine Press). Her poems and fiction have appeared in numerous literary journals. She can be reached at cescawaterfield.com

Desperately Seeking My Name is Not Susan

I’ve been meaning
to re-answer your ad
for love, Love.

Another way to look at it is to taste it.
Consume seven pineapples in a sitting
and wait for the acid to take your tongue.

Truth is, I’ve had too many
beers to care about meaning, too much
red wine to know the difference
between man and sliver. Hell, I’m no Madonna.

Look, all you really need
to know is if Mississippi is the opening
of a thousand drying river beds.

‘Cause the sun’s been promising
to return, and when it does
some woman in Michigan will shiver
and wait to feed you the blacks of her desperate eyes.
She is not me.

When you are gone, I will call out to a shadow
that is you. I will sing the lonesome girl’s prayer with new
lyrics. Say, I’ll be better off without you in the end.

_____________________________________________
Qiana Towns earned a MFA from Bowling Green State University, and a MA from Central Michigan University where she served as poetry editor for the online literary journal Temenos. Her work has appeared in Milk Money, and other literary journals. She is a Cave Canem fellow and Editor for Reverie: Midwest African American Literature.

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Zayne Turner grew up in the rural High Desert of Oregon. She is the author of the chapbook Memory of My Mouth, available from dancing girl press. She has received grants and fellowships for literary & visual arts from the Arteles Creative Center in Finland, Oregon Arts Commission, Vermont Studio Center and the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She also sometimes makes things on Storify.

wig confessional/ the bedroom
Winter 1996

Bedtime (I says my name, hoping he will call it out)
it is just me (touch me like that velvet zodiac woman)
covered in collapsible silence (like the gal I once was)
until dawn (singing in church)
she clings to me (praying for honor)
like moisture in the desert (satin red)
on her seed coat. ( even vestiges of clouds hold rain)
Then she replaces me (but you gotta pull it from the sky)
every time the UPS man arrives (sing it, whistle with your lips, dance)
or when down Patton Ave to catch night. (lift up the tawny clouds, find a rhythm)
She stuffs me in the back of boxes (push them back)
I gasp and rebuff (use your hands)
any compliments— I thought (not beyond that)
about her hiding swollen pockets (remain there in the quiet)
of gray that envelope her (there is a gal there waiting)
place that sucked him (dying to be rained on)
in and released him. (be patient)
Like the blues (please patience)
I need a little steam heat (the body is water)
is what you play as you (the body ain’t no stone)
wait until he comes. (don’t leave)
He lifts up from the scent, (it’s lonely)
colostomy bag opening. (please)
He puts on his pants (hold me)
Barely touches the ashy hip (sweet)
Vaseline smooth. (dewy trip)
You lie there. (he hands the towel)
I, shifted over, see myself (I wash)
Sin in the mirror. (looking)
I don’t like what I’ve become (baby-bloated body)
what has become of us. (painfully still)
I don’t nap (but he doesn’t see or know)
when you need me; (this can’t be love)
Beauty never sleeps (not this way)

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Colena Corbett lives between North and South Carolina. She has studied poetry at the Split Rock Arts Foundation at the University of Minnesota, The Hurston-Wright Foundation at American University, the Kentucky Women Writers’ Conference, and the Callaloo Writers’ Workshop at Brown University. Her work has been published in Obsidian III, Folio Journal and elsewhere. She is completing her MFA at the University of South Carolina.

Meanwhile, a Sanford Wife Burns Bacon
for Shellie Zimmerman

 
When he called home from the station begging a clean change of clothes
 
her nurse’s sense perked to danger but she kept cool. Not until
 
she got close enough to smell his adrenaline protect us stink
 
to see his wounds slinking down the back of his head like tribal marks
 
I followed him nose in a fresh torque, did she freak out. Her training
 
didn’t prepare her for the organs’ slow slip at seeing her new kin
 
seem so close slammed me on the concrete to killed, eyes widened
 
with war, words few and fidgety. Once home, they sat wrapped
 
hoodie up in the tender quiet of his safety while she calmed, reflecting:
 
matrimony intact. His explanation—breakneck whirlwind of suspicious,
 
self-defense, stakes: my life or his—was an equation she couldn’t compute
 
though she absorbed the faulty math, young wedding vows
 
bursting from the heart’s chambers, worming north, infecting her brain
 
with a chant: Believe him. I have to believe him. Believe him. I have to
 

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zakia henderson-brown has received fellowships and scholarships from the Cave Canem Foundation, Callaloo Journal, and the Fine Arts Work Center. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Torch, Reverie, Burner Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, and the anthology Why I Am Not a Painter (Argos: 2011). She currently works as the Outreach Coordinator for The New Jim Crow at The New Press. zakia is a proud Brooklyn native and loyalist.