Thursday, April 14, 2016
Two Poems by Michael H. Brownstein
After the years to be,
the old man and old woman
fat with life from the city
sit outside the back steps
close to each other,
and when the train goes by
see the roar of train on track,
its mosaic of spark and squeal,
the vibration of its shadow,
let its sound tuck them in.
the soul in man changes into an animal on death.
the word is mbisimo:
the people say it comes from the witch sending the soul of his witchcraft to eat the soul of the flesh of man.
medicine has a soul.
the word is umbaga:
a second spear does the final killing no matter if only one spear has been used.
in Orrissa, the Jeypore witch lets a ball of thread flow downwards until it touches the skin of an enemy, places the other end of the thread into her mouth and sucks her enemy's blood.
the word is sugar: it falls into our hair
a saturation of tissues
fills our brain with soul.
Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Cafe 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) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100F Outside and Other Poems (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2012). 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.