Previous Feature: Hal Sirowitz

Hal Sirowitz is a retired NYC public school teacher, who lives with his wife, the writer, Minter Krotzer, in Philadelphia. His poems have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Good Poems (Viking, 2002), and Good Poems for Hard Times (Viking, 2005). Hal is also the author of five books of poetry: Mother Said (Crown/Random House, 1996); My Therapist Said (Crown/Random House, 1998); Before, During & After (Soft Skull Press, 2003); Father Said (Soft Skull Press, 2004); and Stray Cat Blues (Backwaters Press, 2012).


Broken Rules

Rules were made to be broken
as long as she was doing the breaking.
Otherwise, if someone else broke a rule,
she had to clean up after him. Broken
rules usually led to a mess—earlier
curfew at the shelter, or locked door
policy. All the banging she could
muster would not get it opened.


The Unfriendly Ghost

She felt like a ghost. People
would look right through her,
not seeing her. That’s what she
got for living on the streets. Rent
was cheap—a few quarters to convince
the winos to stay at their spot on the next
block. She was too individually minded
to take part in a commune.


Stormy Mondays Let Her Down

Bad weather was the enemy. She
had no umbrella. She couldn’t
start a bonfire to stay warm.
The police would come.
The street was better than a night
in jail. She had a good life.
She just wished every season
was like summer.


Rattling Police Sticks

The police told her to move on.
Easier said than done. They weren’t
supplying her with a moving truck,
or another close-by block with less
restrictions and night traffic. They
rattled their sticks on the ground,
warning her they were just as dangerous
as rats. They had more than one way to bite.


The Mean Dogs

She learned to tell the difference
between rats and dogs. The dogs
peed on your cardboard mattress.
The rats weren’t as sadistic—they
were only interested in searching
for food. They wouldn’t eat all
they had found. They saved some
crumbs for the next raid.


Photo Credit: Kim Sole


All Hail! A former Poet Laureate of Queens, NY, Hal Sirowitz is a recipient of a Nebraska Book Award for Poetry, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship.

He is also an accomplished performance poet. Among other notable events, he has appeared at Lollapalooza, Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, and the Helsinki International Poetry Festival.

To learn even more about Hal, give his website a visit by clicking on the photo to your right . . .

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