Robert A. Miller

The Kosher Chicken Market

When the kosher chicken market burned on 18th Avenue
I stood with my father at the trolley stop
Watching the flames shoot over the street

I held a token for the trolley fare
That was red cardboard
Because all metal was going
To make tank shells overseas

I hoped the rabbis who blessed the chickens
Weren’t in the building while it burned
In those World War II days with my father
When we lived on East Third Street

I worried about the cavernous halls lined with wooden
Barred chicken cages and the smoke tendrilling
Up the staircase into the passageways

I hoped my father would let us stay there watching
While the building
Surrounded by screaming fire trucks
Burned to the ground


Robert A. Miller spent his childhood in Brooklyn, but his home and spirit are now in the Catskill Mountains. His work has been published in Manhattan Linear, The Writing Self, Up the River, and Change Magazine, as well as by Holt Rinehart and Winston and the Albany Times Union. He retired not long ago from New York City’s public television station, WNET, as director of educational publishing.