Originally posted 4/2/2011; original title, “Exile: Portraits.”

I live alone in the far woods,
among good words
in this house — air conditioned,
well-heated, smelling
of mountain spring
in the dead of winter,

a perfect shade of rose.

I like it here.
I like living alone
among words.

I like the muscles in words, like
how they move, 
how it’s not even work
when they move. I like
how different work is
from that.

Sometimes I talk to myself.  
I say, out loud,
that I don’t want my hands 
or my corn anymore.
I’ve held too many things
and been too well-fed. I’m trying 

to be leaner, a good citizen of the world,
though I’ve not left this home soil
in fifty years, though I was born here
as were all my genes. Lucky 

for me that I like it here. I like
being alone, 
living with words — 
I like the work they do
without appearing to work at all.

The only time I ever left 
was when I was sent to kill. 
I came home certain
that all the creation stories 
my little nation ever taught me
were literally true.  A coyote

indeed brought us fire, the snakes
indeed were postal carriers to the gods,
I indeed was fashioned
to wear the word “warrior,” and
someday, all will indeed be restored. 
It has to be true: every brown person I killed
in every country where I killed them
told me the same story
in different words,

and I like words. I like 
the way they move, the way
their muscles shift, the work
they do without appearing to work,
I like how well-scrubbed

they can make me feel.


About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

One response to “Portrait

  • Eileen

    As always you lure us in with your simple down to earth descriptions then slip into combining muscle words with thinking words and then slide the knife is without fanfare and turn the enemy into people and fatalism into guilt and redemption. I’m always drawn in and somehow changed.
    Boy oh boy. You make the impossible seem so easy.

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