Dem Poems

The Brooklyn Collection

by Thomas Porky McDonald

Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 4/16/2007

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 5x8
Page Count : 224
ISBN : 9781434300621

About the Book

          In July of 1985, Thomas Porky McDonald arrived in Brooklyn to work for the New York City Transit Authority.  For two decades, he surveyed the grounds, the air and the heartbeat of what he would come to consider his second home.  More than anything though, he found the writer and poet within himself while navigating Brooklyn, and that translated into short stories, historical narratives and the poetry that defines the Irishman who showed up one day on the “G” train from nearby Queens.


Dem Poems: The Brooklyn Collection is a celebration of McDonald’s 20 years spent as a Brooklyn regular, where some of the most relevant pieces in the poet’s arsenal were born.  Beginning with a nod to the many fabled icons of the Borough, like the Brooklyn Bridge (“Steel Ropes”), Ebbets Field (“Bedford Interlude”) and Coney Island (“Take a Message Back to Sundown”), as well as the area’s landscape itself (“Just a Walk On Flatbush Avenue,” “Trolley Tracks”), the volume then settles into more personal poems about those who first graced his life in Brooklyn.  Pieces like “Notes On the Hallway Choir,” “Sister Theresa” and “A Ride On the I.N.T.” speak reverently of friendships shared and grown, while leading the reader toward the two most visceral sections in the collection.


Retirees (“Waltz into the Night”), escapees (“Southbound”) and others moving on (“Bittersweet Moments”) form a joyous prelude to a number of more somber homecoming pieces, such as “Sonic Whispers,” “One More” and “Where Pain Doth Cease.”  In the final pages of the book, Brooklyn baseball, which was the original muse for McDonald during his earliest days in Kings County, is lauded in both the past (“The Kids From the Old Neighborhood,” “Dem, I and Eden,” “The Sentry”) and present (“At Brooklyn,” “Eternity Day”) forms.


In October of 2005, McDonald was amongst a large contingent from NYC Transit that was banished from Brooklyn, to their new base in Lower Manhattan (though he would still return across the river on a regular basis).  Dem Poems presents the kid from Queens in his most comfortable role as the poet from Brooklyn.  For anyone who has ever been to Brooklyn for a significant amount of time, this book is a keeper.

About the Author

Thomas Porky McDonald has written extensively about baseball and the inherent meanings that it can entail, most notably in verse form.  His first four poetry collections, which spanned the 1990’s on into the early 21st Century, each contained diverse pieces on what he still believes is the National Pastime.  Ground Pork: Poems 1989-1994, Downtown Revival: Poems 1994-1997 and Closer to Rona: Poems 1997-1999, already published and Still Chuckin': Poems 1999-2002, which will arrive in the near future, all present a writer whose work is often distinguished by the use of baseball and the ballpark venue.  Diamond Reflections, Baseball Pieces For Real Fans, took the most vibrant baseball-related poems of these collections from the many other life-related pieces contained in each five-book set.  A fifth chronological anthology, In the Cameo Shade: Poems 2002-2005, is also slated for the near future.  Dem Poems, The Brooklyn Collection might well be the most personal collection of all, since both friends and baseball permeate through it.  Beyond the poetry landscape, McDonald has also released Series Endings: A Whimsical Look at the Final Plays of Baseball’s Fall Classic, 1903-2003, a distinctly different view of baseball’s World Series than most mainstream histories, Where the Angels Bow to the Grass: A Boy’s Memoir, taken mainly from the writer’s childhood days of the 1960’s and 70’s, describing the bond between McDonald and his father, Bill “The Chief” McDonald, At a Loss to Eternity, which recalls successful teams of the past that are often overlooked and Never These Men, which considers a number of unfairly branded figures.  His three volume “Irishman’s Tribute” series paid homage to various heroes of the past.  An Irishman’s Tribute to the Negro Leagues, Over the Shoulder and Plant on One: An Irishman’s Tribute to Willie Mays and Hit Sign, Win Suit: An Irishman’s Tribute to Ebbets Field each contained short stories and historical material, as well as a small dose of McDonald’s trademark baseball poetry.  McDonald has also published a book of short stories, Paradise Oval and his singular New Yorkers’ take on 9/11, The Air That September.  Born in St. Albans Naval Hospital in Queens, McDonald has lived in nearby Astoria his entire life.