Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Three By Michael H. Brownstein

Michael H. Brownstein has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), and The Possibility of Sky and Hell (White Knuckle Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).


My brother called me from the Florida wetlands.
It’s been raining all week, he said, 
and then held the phone away from his ear
so I can hear the steel vibrations of tree frogs,
vertical line twanging with instruction.

Driving my son on an errand, he pointed to the hills and said,
The only thing I like about Mid-Missouri—
the gray fog in the distance 
branching itself into wrinkles.

That night N. said to me: Camping is an aphrodisiac
And I thought to myself I never have anything to say.


--from a Hopi ceremonial dance performed by men only wearing the face of a woman
When he put on the Kaschina mask,
he became a woman,
a subtle change
one to the other--
the gentle pull of flesh 
at his nipples,
the sudden erosion of depth 
at his waist,
a burgeoning weight 
from within his hips.
He wondered if everything 
could ever 
change back to how it began,
but her smile became flirtatious,
her eyes larger, laughing,
thick with the glow of sex. 
No longer did she feel 
a wanderlust of penis, 
but instead, 
an empathy for that outside 
to enter.  


Do you not understand the strike in lightning,
the thunder curse that comes after,
the unsustainable armadillos moving 
northwards with the warm waters?
Rootworm, boll weevil, red-winged 
blackbird, great grizzly of the western caves,
West Niles virus, give us your best shot.  
The Australian box jellyfish drinks
in the oxygen of a change in weather,
its long tentacles black lipsticked tire treads,
wind worn, wind weaved, a car careening
out of control, its driver breaking ferociously, 
an oak, thick weed, tall grass, the only future 
either will ever know. Make sure 

the last woman alive turns out the lights. 

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