Category Archives: uncategorized

How To Repair The Conquest

You want too much, 
I’ve been told. Eagle
dancing in my back pocket,
turtle face peeking from within
my coat, a mist in my eyes
that insinuated itself there
from a pond in deep woods.
You accuse me, say I want a life
like that, a life made of

all that was eaten and spit out
before I was even born, before
I could even understand. You say
I could have born in a time when
it was commonly part
of all who were born here,
but I wasn’t.  You accuse me,

say I want to go back there as if all
that’s happened could be erased;
you accuse me again and again 

and I respond that of course I know 
better, that we can’t go back
and I know erasing all that would mean
erasing me, as I am some
of what’s happened 
since,

and then I stop and look
at that, and think of how
it would shift the world
if I were to be erased

and I say that I need to study
on this one a bit more
before I can fully respond, even though
I am clear about how I’m leaning
and if I disappear after speaking,

so be it.

Advertisements

A note to the readers of this blog…

Dear folks,

I’ve decided to cut way back on my poetry writing and posting for the next month.

It’s important, I think, to lie fallow now and then and recharge. As it is, I’ve posted an average of one poem a day on the blog since 2010, so taking a bit of time away from it all doesn’t seem too outrageous an idea in the pursuit of better poetry.

This decision is also prompted by a really, REALLY busy work schedule for my business in April, including a fair amount of travel to handle multiple sessions for one client. I’m taking next week off for vacation and then plunging into the mess.

I hope my hiatus will not drive you away, especially those of you who are new readers.  Plenty of poems here to read!  

Thanks, and see you soon,

Tony


Delicacy

There is a delicacy to the question
of how we are going to move forward
from this moment — at least for those who see it
as yet another vagary of politics, a moment
up for firm but cordial discussion.  

For me the delicacy of the question
is drowned by the blood
from those being butchered
to feed both sides,
and how it pools ever deeper.

The ones who think it’s time
to find common ground and strive
for mutual goals are terrified
that someone might choose instead
to point out the red footprints 

they’re leaving behind 
on their way to the conference table;
to say that the words in their mouths
form the echoes of death sentences;
to say that agreeing to disagree

is equivalent to agreeing
to sharpen swords and load the guns
of the butchers. For me,
the moment for fear
of plain talk is long past.

Nothing in this moment
is delicate. Look at how the blood
runs. Look at how we hunker down,
hollow-faced, pretending. There is
nothing to be said. Now’s a time

for something that is not talk.
I don’t even want to give it a word
because it doesn’t demand expression.
Talking, we save for listeners. Listening
is a delicate art. This is not the time for it.


Conditioning

Stormbringer, supercharger, 
strong attractor, such memory
of how little I cared for consequence
in their presence. I was young
and loathed myself except when 
I exalted myself, and I had no balance
between.  Stormcharger, super-attractor,
strong bringer of past to present, memory
of what I gained and tossed; nonsense,
these things – storm attractor, superbringer,
strong charger – are words only, things
I mastered long ago, things I made up
for the purpose of raising the dead
from the tombs within me. I was young once.
I killed that youth six times over. I am old now,
still ready to kill that youth, superstorm, charge attractor,
strength brought to bear upon how sick I am
with nostalgia and regret for how I let myself go
and how often in recreation of those forces
I let myself go feebly into their streams again.


The Meaningless Goal

I hit my Meaningless Goal for the year and beat last year’s posted poem total by 1.

328 poems posted for the year.

I’ll try and get to 330 by New Year’s Eve, but I think I’m taking a few days off for the holidays.  

Enjoy your holidays, and thank you for reading.


Three Chords And the Truth

The problem with
three chords and the truth
is always that third chord

When the first one
lays it right out there
where anyone can see it

and the second one 
simply points
at what the first one did

why do you need one more
when all it does
is nods at the first two

and brings you
right back
to them again

Maybe it’s in
the nature of truth
that we find the answer

that it’s not as much about
how three chords fill the void
better than one or two

than it is about
which three chords you choose
to carry which truths

You reach out endlessly
for the right ones
with two or three fingers

on keys or strings
and end up hearing either outright lies
or mere cartoons of that truth

and then you reach out again
and this time you find
a truth you weren’t expecting

which you follow and
there you go with those chords
and that truth 

but the one you started with
gets away and one day
you come back to it

and stare at it and say
was this ever true
You puzzle out three new chords

and try to answer that
until one day that truth
blares out of a car radio

flying in on three chords
you never even considered
and it’s a hit and you shake your head

at how simple it should have been
to do this and then
you crank it up

regretting nothing
of how this mystery passed you by
as you shout and you sing 

and try to figure out
that third chord
that was the key you never found


Getting Past It

Three fractured heads 
in the crotch of a tree.

Dog-torn infant arms
strewn in a ditch.

On a dirt road, 
dark wet sand.

New genocide and massacre
glimpsed on a screen.

You can’t look away
even as you say

“it can’t happen here.”
It has happened here.

Here is here because
it has happened here.

You didn’t do it. You had
nothing to do with it.

But you are here, in part,
because it has happened here.

This is why 
you can’t look away

even as you say
“it can’t happen here.”

You want to know
what it looks like,

want to toughen up.
It can’t happen here

but who knows where
it will happen tomorrow

and if you are there
by chance or design

your today could be gone
when your tomorrow gets here.

You keep an eye
on the screen

and make plans and promises
about what you will

and will not do 
if it happens

where you are:
how you will stay upright

if the road runs slippery
with blood, how you will avoid

tripping over flesh
on your walkway, how you will

get past it. How you
will thrive in the aftermath,

how you will raise a family
there.


Worms

The earth in the front yard’s 
worm-broken as always
after the rain.

So many castings on the surface,
thick red threads squirming
on the sidewalk.

I still don’t understand 
how anything lives here,
myself least of all,

but I do, and they do.
They seem in fact
to thrive somehow.

I don’t, not at all.
I’d go so far as to say
I’m bad at living; 

worse at it than
these worms are,
anyway.

It’s odd
how it happens
that one can end up

envying worms. I hope
some nice ones eat me
when I die. I know 

it’s not worms like these
I should be counting on
for that. These worms

aren’t the right type.
These worms look like
survivors, like they’d know

that you are what you eat.
That’s a good enough reason
for them to avoid me.

It’s raining, I’m waiting to die,
worms have come up from the wet
all over the yard, and I’m watching 

them from the window. If you need
anything beyond this
to understand me, be like the worms:

steer clear.

 

 


Dawn

I said I shouldn’t have to prove
my exceptional nature and skills
to be valued, that I am human

should be enough to make you want 
to care about me and not think of me as
a heap of dirt to be danced on 
like some grave. 

Then I looked around:
when has being human 
ever been enough?

I said that everyone came here
from somewhere except for those of us
whose folks were here already.

Then someone reminded me
of the Bering Straits and someone else
pointed at carved heads and said Africa
and another one laughed
and said Irish monks and let us not forget
the sky people from Sirius or 
Alpha Centauri,

and I realized
how much people
love the colonial buffet.

I said something about
a living wage and
not having to fear that
a broken turn signal 
might get you beaten
or jailed or deported or
killed. I said something

about people who had no choice
about coming here, about people
born here with no voice to be heard
here, about people burning here
and drowning here.

Then it struck me
that no one could hear a thing I’d said
over the sound of locks being locked
and deadbolts being thrown, guns
being cocked and hands being clapped
over ears and eyes.

I stopped talking long enough
to consider the possibility
that perhaps they heard me just fine
and that was why they locked
and loaded and shut themselves away.

I stopped talking.
I looked up.

There was
dawn in the air. It was lonely
but it was new. It might not have lasted
long but it was clean. It might
still have been night
but that hint of sun

felt sacred.


You Have Three Minutes To Answer

Originally posted 1/14/2013.

Actual question from a test designed to assess creativity:  “Just suppose we had the power to transport ourselves anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye.  What would some benefits, problems, etc. of this power be?  You have three minutes to answer.”

First

I would move
six inches away
and rewrite my entire body of work
as if I had always been
six inches away from it.

Next

I would move back to where I had been
and rewrite everything again
so all of it would be so unlike
how it began
that it would be like starting over.

Then

I’d move
six inches
in a different direction
to see how it looked from there.

I’d end up
moving swiftly
around the house
without ceasing:

desk
to bed
to kitchen
to shitter
to shower
to desk
to bed.

Then

I might burn all my poems.
Go buy some expensive paper in Venice.
Write them all again
even shorter,
one word per pricey page.

So

six inches away from the desk.
Back at the desk.
Six inches away from the desk.
Back at the desk.
Somewhere else far away.
Back at the desk.
Somewhere else again.
Back at the desk.

I’m

not really sure
how different
it would be.  

Not really certain
there would be powers
or benefits.

Not really certain
how much of a problem
it might be

except for the wear and tear
on my body
and 
the slippery possibility
of ever living
a grounded life.

Not sure it would be
that different.  Not sure
at all that this has not
already happened,

is not still happening

every three minutes

for three minutes at a time.


Small plug…

The music site “Bandcamp” is where my poetry and music group, The Duende Project, sells its work.  

Today, Bandcamp is donating 100% of its profits to the Transgender Law Center.

If you’d like to help out, and maybe grab some of our recorded work as well…

Our site is at http://theduendeproject.bandcamp.com .

While you’re on Bandcamp, check out the vast variety of music offered there. It’s a great site that does a fine job of helping music creators to make a little money from and promote their work.  

Thanks in advance for your time.


My Gods

You come at me
and come at me
as you have for years

with gods
you brought 
with you
from your land

and tell me I am 
cursed, doomed, 
blighted.

You cast spells,
toss masses;

lay ghosts under my feet;

offend with talk of
how wrong-soaked
my soul is.

You brandish
the things you stole from us
as if they were your own
wands or censers or
crucifixes,
as if your hands
upon them are
enough
to use their power?

Listen to me,
missionary;
listen to me,
pagan colonizer;
listen to me,
plastic shaman,
thief,
dog 

so unleashed from 
your own stone and sea
that you cannot feel 
how lost you are:

you are
on ground where
my gods live and 
no matter how far yours
traveled to get here,
they’re still

tourists,  they’re surely
tired, 

they certainly
do not
belong;

I have gods
at my back
rested and waiting and
grounded deeply
in this earth.

Nothing of yours
has ever
shaken them.

Nothing
ever will.


Life’s A Beach

In the morning I wake up
dripping and soaked in
politics or what
some of you call
politics when I think
politics is a code word for
the ocean 

I live in and I can’t
get out and don’t really
care to try.

I know a lot of people
who drown in it. I know a lot
who tread water
and even some
who thrive and race here.

Some of you think I’m weird for staying here.
You say hey, life’s a beach. Get out of the water
when you can. That ocean
is fun to
look at now and then
but all in all you say gimme

sand and land and sun and fun.
Time to turn, you won’t burn.

You call me out for staying
out here. You call me
obsessed or fussy with it.

The only reason you have a beach
to get out onto at all
is because of this ocean that
would just 
swallow you in an impersonal
flash or splash
while you lie there.

I stay dripping with politics because
having been on the beach in the past
when a wave broke over me

I prefer to feel
what’s around

as it’s happening
and not be caught
by surprise.


Will

My people 
I tell you 

I am a broken bottle
and though I can hold

neither wine for celebration
nor water for survival

what is left of me
is yours to use

as decoration
(let my shards

be shattered further
into mosaic bits) or

as defense (let my ends
be cemented into walls

to serve as teeth) or even
for offense (take me in hand and

swing me
as needed) 

Though I hope
I will be art for you

I will not flinch from being
fang or blade

for you my people
who will have need of all 

of what little I can offer now
in these latter days


Patreon page added

I’ve added a page to the main menu here.  

If you look at the header on the blog site, you’ll find a page labeled “Patreon” which has information and a link to my monthly crowdfunding effort.  

Again, I’ll never make the blog anything other than free to all.  If you’d like to join the community of folks who’ve gotten involved in funding any of my other work, the information to do that is on that page.

Thanks in advance.  

A direct link to the page itself:

http://www.patreon.com/TonyBrown