Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Poetry By Alan Britt

In August 2015 Alan Britt was invited by the Ecuadorian House of Culture Benjamín Carrión in Quito, Ecuador as part of the first cultural exchange of poets between Ecuador and the United States. During his visit, he participated in venues all across the country including the international literary conference sponsored by La hermandad de las palabras 2015 in Babahoyo, Ecuador. In 2013 he served as judge for the The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award. His interview at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem aired on Pacifica Radio, January 2013. His latest books include Violin Smoke (Translated into Hungarian by Paul Sohar and published in Romania: 2015; Lost Among the Hours: 2015; Parabola Dreams (with Silvia Scheibli): 2013; and Alone with the Terrible Universe: 2011. He teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.


If I found myself in Shakespeare’s company
cruising the thermals high above a tarnished 
sterling platter of mantis celery, white cheeses 
harpooned by cellophane toothpicks, & jaundiced 
dips speckled with flea-sized spices, I’d bow 
before Sir William, (or Sir Edward), & apologize  
for scorpions prowling the perimeter of my 
indigestion, thereby expunging any regret for 
my periodic battles with academic seizures.


Mantis eyes flicker gas blue flames—
barefoot verb pirouettes scalding ice—
disturbance of coconuts waist deep &
bare-chested into the lake that Michelangelo 
enjoyed as a boy on full moons; yet flames 
prowl the golden thicket like mother jaguars 
with infants in tow, heat waves melting terracotta 
tiles over algae-coated Beverly Hills chateaus—
“Hi, I’m Michelangelo, be sure to tip the mice 
who shoulder ice from the whitewashed shed 
& tell ‘em cheeses on the house, wherever 
that house shall be!” 


Frustrated, first one picks up a rock, 
second one, petrified timber, third one 
wanders the electric blue forest of Austria, 
fourth kicks his Ludwig igniting the most 
dynamic rock ‘n’ roll quartet in history.

We circled the moon’s waist on a raft of
driftwood across a sea of blood—WWII 
left its mark on us—now, we’ll never go 
quietly or any other crazy adverb into that 
stuck in some god forsaken place someday—

But I’ve got rhythm, plenty of rhythm. 


It makes sense: we age, we bore with vagaries,
we tell tall tales because the truth is too expensive,
we quilt the Lord’s Prayer on a niece’s christening
blanket—chop confusion into firewood—lest we 
find ourselves at the end of a long journey from stars 
sprawled like octopi→200→feet across a minute or 
a day, if, for example, the Pope suddenly, inexplicably, 
retires to 300 acres of prime pasture, thanks to you 
& me.

Make sense?


Think folks who chose suicide
over a backyard bug zapper’s blue
sparks splintering canasta, pinochle
& fat cigar mushroom clouds 
swirling the local morgue was 
a perfect crock of shit, then you 
weren’t paying much attention. 

Me, either.

But, think about it—before the 
bank closes, jams alleyways, clogs 
arteries called ports & coerces 
reluctant restaurateurs, in long run 
or the short, because it’s better 
that way.


Ocean creeps through soda machine’s gilded gills

Blood pressure off: 79/49

White-haired wheelchair in purple knits

Black shoes’ ankle straps crinkled over cinnamon nylons 

Fox 45 visits Newtown, Connecticut

Back pain’s piranha . . . lower vertebrae 

Severe cough’s traffic jam on northbound 95

Samsung flat screen skids tractor trailer triples across I-80’s black ice

Buzzards litter, blobs of ink, stubble cornfield 

             ✄  ✈  ☂  ☢  ☮  ☤  ☠  ♑

Feathers like ash like 60 round clips like adjectives crumpled into stainless steel cans 
like smartphones riding the white backs of stallions circling circus rings littered 
with peanut shells hash tags & pulverized vertebrae like recessed light bulbs like an 
appendix sinking to the bottom of the Black Sea like nurse straightening Newsweek & 
People on plywood shelves near plastic spruce dripping raspberry gauze, golden cones, 
bright green bows, & blinking white lights tacked to walnut overlay like titanium 
thoughts like smoke in the shape of corroded angels like tongues in the shape of 
corroded smoke like eyeballs bouncing between metal jacks sprawled across granite 
linoleum like voices left out in the rain, edges curled like stale bologna, voices wading marijuana fields’ sticky red-veined ceremonial bulbs that taste like liquorice like young wanderers in seer sucker sun dresses faded baseball caps & smiles like crucifixes like revolving doors & saints with hoodies like emerald EXIT sign’s little arrow pointing 
toward heaven up down east west in-between the onionskin layers separating one
dimension from another like each electron aggravating each neutron & forcing each
proton to reveal itself as giraffe or moose, emerald housefly in blazing estrous, ether  
masks covering the lips of holocausts, as orderly in paper slippers poaching a Pepsi 
from soda machine wheezing a televangelist soliciting funds in the form of death bed confessions & beehive hairdo crushed beneath eighteen-wheeler tailgate (head lopped cantaloupe clean into Benz backseat) as chuckling televangelist & squirming blond wig 
on straw-colored, microfiber sofa, as palm trees swaying, as curved beaks shimmering, 
as snack machine wheezes crackly bags of chips, nuts, candies, & twinkling white  lights→→→→  ← ← ↑
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