Sunday, September 16, 2012

Two Poems by Michael H. Brownstein

the puncture wound in the ceiling
a rupture in the plaster
and the limbs of the house
settles to its bones
every house has tendons,
an outline of flesh,
a foundation rooted to earth.
So it came as a surprise
when the chimney began leaning
and the mortar between bricks
eased away from itself.
Weather beaten, the joints let go,
wood warped into driftwood
stone began its journey into sand
and we watched everything
not comprehending why now,
why this summer, so hot,
the sun unforgiving, never
a breeze, even the well drying up.
It was not a surprise at all.
A spur entered the foundation concrete
and a burr angled itself to a copper pipe.
The door swelled with the heat,
paint chipped in daylight,
and we went to the roof
to begin the healing.


I decided to follow your advice
and chase my missing soul down the track.
Outside the temperature not water into ice cold yet,
but cold enough for a heavy coat, long scarf,
and Scooby Doo gloves you gave me ten Christmas's ago.
You told me stay awake for five nights so I could die
as if an almost week's lack of sleep could kill.
I didn't know your sadness (anger?) took up that much of the mesa.
Already the concrete path echoes through my shoes
and I feel lopsided as if I have suffered a stroke,
but everyone knows stroke victims do not know their disfigurement
until someone points it out to them.
Sadly, I have a lot more to say, a lot more to do,
but not now -- now I walk -- the wind dandruff and stain --
my soul already five nights ahead of me.

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, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks includingThe 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), and I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago’s inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators, designs websites and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others.


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