Brick Road Poetry Press

poetry made to entertain, amuse, and edify

The mission of Brick Road Poetry Press is to publish and promote poetry that entertains, amuses, edifies, and surprises a wide audience of appreciative readers.  We are not qualified to judge who deserves to be published, so we concentrate on publishing what we enjoy. Our preference is for poetry geared toward dramatizing the human experience in language rich with sensory image and metaphor, recognizing that poetry can be, at one and the same time, both familiar as the perspiration of daily labor and as outrageous as a carnival sideshow.

Poetry by Albert Garcia from A Meal Like That

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The mosquitofish in the pond

wait for the insect to lay its eggs,

for the wriggling larvae to hatch.


Then they swim over, slurp up

their little meal and retreat

to the lily pads’ shelter


having saved me from the irritating welts

of early summer.  Wouldn’t it be great

if we could all gorge ourselves


to protect each other?  I’d take on

a sixteen ounce porterhouse and a bottle

of Syrah to keep my mother


from the chronic ache in her joints.

Would a meal like that

save my friend from the dark


pain of his marriage

ending—or salve my wife’s

migraines with cool relief?


Give me a wide wedge of that banana

cream pie so I can shelter you,

my friendly reader, from the diseased hours


of your day.  Let us sit

at the table, reach across each other

for extra helpings of potatoes and gravy.

Of course, the mosquitofish

know not what they do.  They eat

to fill their one-inch silver bellies,


oblivious to good or harm.  Perhaps

it’s better that way, to rescue

by accident, swimming through algae


each day of your life, never knowing you stop

the rash before it starts.  Just think,

as you slather butter on bread,


tearing at the crusty heel of sourdough

with your teeth, how good you are.

You could be saving us now.




Before the gifts and wrappings, before

tins of shortbread my grandmother sent

every year, before Confession, before Mass, before I knew

what I didn’t want to know, I’d lie

beneath the tree, near the heater vent,

listening to the rumble of warmth

beneath the house, smelling the carpet,

the pine-fresh basin of water

in the stand.  Of course I’d dream

of impossible gifts:  fishing rods, guns

I was too young for, elaborate electric football

games where the plastic players sprinted

down the sideline on a cushion of air.

My dreams were simple:  catch a long bomb

from John Brodie, catch a big trout.

This was before I knew love is pain

wrapped in shining paper, that the dream

itself is the gift.  I would lie

under that silver tip, picking off short needles,

pinching them to smell

what was right on hand, what I already knew

was a season of hope, what I’d carry with me

into the world of Santa and Jesus.


Boy Cleaning Trout


His father taught him

the belly, the only white part,

should give with the tip of his knife,

so he keeps pushing until its soft flesh splits

and the blade slides easily

up between fins to the head.


Just down riffle, his father watches

the boy spreading it open.  The meat

should be his first concern:  orange-red

it's native, white

it’s fed in a hatchery—no taste.

He looks for its sex,

a pearly skein of roe the color of cantaloupe

or a thin thread of sperm

tucked back against its spine.


He works his fingers

under the cool entrails, pulls hard,

tosses all but the white tube,

the gut, into the stream.  This

he squeezes between finger and thumb

to see a gray mash,

the fish’s last meal of mayflies.

His knuckles white-red with cold, he rubs

the cavity thoroughly, rinses, then hooks

the burgundy feathers hidden

under shining flaps of its head.

His father taught him long ago

that these take oxygen from water,

that all living things need oxygen.

He notices the little cloud escaping his lips

and remembers the fish’s mouth

opening and opening, gills

lifting in what looked like exhaustion

but could have been pain.


First Communion, 1970


The first time I hold my tongue out

for the priest, I fear

his white fingers will touch

my mouth above the gold plate

in the alter boy’s hesitant hand.


There I kneel at the oak rail,

staring at the statue of Jesus,

his red, revealed heart,

a plum circled with thorns.

I feel the gaze of St. Patrick

peering down from the stained glass,

serpent pinned beneath his feet.


I feel Sister Mary Raymond’s hope

I’ll become a priest,

she who gave our catechism class

keychain medals of Neil Armstrong’s

“one small step” and warned us

never to forget this miracle,

this act of God.  I swallow—


 the scratchy host

nearly catching in my throat—

return to the cool comfort

of my pew.  Saints and angels look down

from the ceiling, down

upon my slicked hair.


I am seven years old.  My new

Rosary beads shine black,

a clutch of ripe elderberries

in my small hands.


On the church’s front steps after Mass,

I join my class for a photo,

starched white shirts and ruffled dresses,

black ties and tulle veils—

everyone squinting into the blaze

of spring sun that hangs over Main Street.


I’m the one in the middle

with the worried smile,

asking myself how the Lord decides

who raises lunar dust

with his steps, who stands

behind the altar in flowing vestments.


Awkward in my nicest clothes, I struggle

to look at the camera, to focus,

wondering if God, resting in my stomach

even now, knows who I am.



To be like Jesus, I gave up

lemon drops and black licorice,

which I didn’t like anyway.


It wasn’t exactly wandering

forty days in the desert,

but it was sacrifice


since I would have used both

to barter with friends

for cat eye marbles or baseball cards.


Oh, I knew what was coming.

Every year a man suffered

on a cross, was given vinegar


to drink, was mocked by a crowd

while his friends shrunk away

in fear or shame.  Every year


I prepared for this

by giving something up

and confessing to the priest


that I’d taken the Lord’s name

in vain, had been mean

to my sisters, had disobeyed


my parents.  These sins earned me

ten Our Fathers of penance,

prayers to be said immediately,


kneeling in the dark cavern of the church,

staring at the statue of Jesus

hanging sinewy on the cross.


That’s where I saw him

every Sunday, suspended

in front of the congregation,


watching me fidget in the pew,

knowing my every impure thought

while I stared at the stained-glass


saints in the windows.  They stared

back with Jesus like teachers

waiting for me to turn in a test.


I searched my soul, or tried,

not knowing exactly where to find it,

worried it had already slipped away

and gone outside where the spring air

was hot and light, where you could taste

pleasure on the breeze.


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