"Smoke" by Richard Bronson

Richard Bronson

Richard Bronson

Richard Bronson is on the faculty at the Stony Brook University Medical Center, a school in the vanguard of the back-to- literature movement in medical education. He is on the Board of Trustees of the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association and the Board of the Long Island Poetry Collective, facilitating its weekly workshop. In 2006, he founded Padishah Press, a small press devoted to the publication of poetry informed by the experiences of illness and healing. Bronson has won the 2003 poetry prize of the American College of Physicians and the 2005 poetry prize of the Institute for Medicine in Contemporary Society.


The smell of Bond Street-
and I am there again,
in the front seat of his car,
pipe in his mouth,
held at a rakish angle,
his Homburg between us.
He puffed away
while the Cadillac cruised Gun Hill Road,
Pelham Parkway, Bruckner Boulevard—
the patchwork quilt that was his Bronx.

Alone with him that day,
brother, mother absent,
we drove from place to place
on house-call rounds,
to German, Irish, Jewish immigrant homes,
while I sat in his double-parked car and waited.

He came from such a home—
carpenter Dad from Moscow,
mother who spoke broken English—
first in his family to go to college.

Then down the Grand Concourse
we went, sitting in silence, side by side,
radio tuned to WOR,
while Carlton Fredricks told us
Living Should be Fun.