Her hands the claws of woodwinds and storm clouds,
the shape of a scream, the o of a mouth, the oval of head,
fingers stretching and stretching horribly, contentiously,
fencing in all that contains madness and stability.
When I met her at the smell of a neck, I tumbled into wonder,
into worship, into always never being able to let go again.
There was not a sparrow hawk nearby, but a soft breeze,
the scent of ethnicity, the color of blueness in the clouds.
I follow to where the path goes through the belly of bark
into the skinny trail of hammer thronged ants,
wheel bird beetles and a flourish of sapsucker bees.
Here the way is blocked, here the way continues,
here is how you compose a love poem from the sighting
of a bird on a tree near the cone heads and boulders,
the end of a plain and a playing field, a thin waterway,
the land of flesh eating darters and mud bottom bass.
SLIPPING INTO BREATH
When his mind began to blister and skip into missteps during double-dutch games he never played, he found himself deep in breathpause focusing on the soft sound of one hand clapping he could not describe; the comeback line to your-mama’s-so-ugly he could not play; the broken rhinoceros fan, a Zen Koan, he would never comprehend. Suddenly the curb at the street was before him, an insurmountable obstacle of Olympic stature, and he forced himself to breathbrake, to take each step as a direction from his head, one foot over the edge, then the other until he was safe, two feet on the street, the curb behind him, walking away without having fallen. He wondered then if he could ever compete in the dozens or race downwind in a flying kite jacket, the lift of the currents of everything taking him to another place of safebreathing. Of course, this was nothing to be concerned about, isn’t that what everyone told him. But then he never asked.
IN THE MORNING IT WILL STILL BE OK
This is not who I love. This is not what I love.
Love is a god-stone, thick and sometimes valuable,
strong-wristed, one arc of a finger
Love has the weight of god, the weight of Eve’s sister,
Lilith, and vomit, water mixed with salt,
A mottled permutation of tear strained skin,
pink and ordinary, thinly veined and iridescent,
the sigh of sun arriving into day’s orange blue.
This is who I love. This is what I love.
An evening of chimneys and steam,
a cloud of feather and frog,
Bio: Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of Hurricane Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).
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