How many lives have you touched
acid sighing from your finger tips,
or is it instead sodium hydroxide?
You with the liquid nitrogen heart,
cotton mouthed tongue,
sharpened canine teeth of an asp.
Everything about you
small enough to cuddle,
and then the redesigning begins...
TENSION IS A FOOD SATISFYING A HUNGER
Stress lines are not the stretch marks of love
the way a man is more notable on the outside
and I who have seen guns used in violence,
lift a knife, yes, to cut blood wrinkles
across outstretched hands. Geography
comes in handy sometimes, a history
of place names, semantics of color.
Chicken wire can be knotted into barbs;
barbs can be thrust into tender parts of skin,
wrapped around scrotums, around wrists,
the one point arteries open like clothing,
passion an anger we do not need to know,
a simplicity of milk, a pot boiling over.
the house facing the end of the road,
the pole dividing the path into fractions,
the thousand thousand crows clouding the sky,
the witch tree and the bewitched tree,
the time Sunday was the first day of the week,
the shadow of the suicide girl and the pickers
picking cans and other trash a week
before the first day of spring
and the line of light in the distance moved,
not the shadow,
not the twigs on the branches
perfect brown grass flaking green against the palisades,
sandy dolomite eroding in the heat of winter,
ice splinters: ice storms, a curvature of cloud,
the race against stain, thread, and conscienceless,
the way scar tissue feels against your tongue.
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, 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), 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 Hurricane Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).