Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Poem by Michael H. Brownstein

November Evening, Rising

November evening,
distant Apache thunder calls in the dead
and I leave one classroom to go to another,
the lightning branding the housing projects
and I who knows better
decided to take the shortcut instead of the well lit
street from Division to Halsted,
late already for my next assignment,
the classroom in the building a block away,
the rain not yet overhead.
If I hurry, I will be on time.
I step into the black black darkness,
move quickly to the building well lit
when suddenly a short little man jumps in front of me:
Hey, Mister, this is a robbery, he snarls,
I want your wallet, your watch and your shoes
and I want them--my shoes?  I think,
why my shoes?  They cost me five dollars at Payless.
I don't wear a watch, but my wallet--
Hey, Mister, are you deaf or something?--louder--
I want your wallet, your watch and your shoes
and I want them right now.
He's a short little man and I know
I can bowl right over him
and make it to the next building before he gets up,
but he must be thinking what I think
he jumps to the side.
Listen, Mister, if you don't give them to me
Right now,--a whisper--I'm going to pee on you.
Did I hear him right?  I mean
I've heard of robbery by gun, of course,
and knife, baseball bat and fist.  Even by car,
but I never heard of anyone robbing someone with pee,
and then he pulls it out in one quick action,
and lets out a thick stream.
I'm glad I took up a bit of basketball in high school,
and a bit of soccer.  I dodge him easily,
but he keeps coming dribbling down the blacktop.
He must have drank twenty glasses of water just to rob me.
And so it goes.
He forces out a squirt, I dodge to the side.
When we make it to the division of dark and light,
the door to my classroom yards away,
I step into the light.  He pauses in the dark.
Then he makes one grand lurch, fails,
says, "Sorry, bout that, man," and disappears
into the blackness,
November evening rising.

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,, and others.  In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samsidat 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 a Hurricane Press, 2013).  He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

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