eBooks available!

I have eBooks/PDFs of my work available for sale to those who might be interested. All were previously offered as rewards to various tiers of my Patreon subscribers (a program I will be continuing there, btw). If you want access to the most recent collections as they come out, I’d go there. Just sayin’.

The titles include:
Annual “best of the year” collections. Currently available: 2017 — 2022.

“Then Play On,” a chapbook of poems about music

Pushpins and Thumbtacks,” a volume about icons and cliches of American culture

“Noted In Passing,” a revised eBook of a chapbook from 2012 that was a limited edition written for a single feature

“White Pages,” my collection of poems related to race and its role in my life

Decay Diary,” a collection of poems about aging

In the Time Of Contagion,” a collection of poems about you-know-what

“The Wrong Flowers,” a prose/poetry meditation on the state of the USA in 2020

Show Your Work,” an eBook version of an earlier, out of print chapbook.

“The Day,” a selection from 20 years of poems about 9/11/01.

“Ideation,” a short collection of poems old and new about living with depression and suicidal ideation.

“Long Winded,” a collection of longer poems.

“songs for reluctant warriors,” poems for the US political moment of early summer, 2022.

“3 Quarters” released in October 2022. Random and recent.

“Owner’s Manual” released in December of 2022. Poems in the form of directions.  


Minimal # of repeats among the collections.

All are available as both PDF and ePUB formats.

If you are interested, let me know with a comment on this post. Right now? They are 1 for $5 through Paypal or Venmo, 3 for $12. We can talk about more if you want more.

Thanks.


A Little Distance Between

More than a little 
distance between 
me in a car
being pulled over
for speeding or bad light
or something or other
or nothing at all

and the ones
(you know the ones I mean)
who don’t drive away
from being pulled over
for speeding or bad light
or something or other
or nothing at all

I’ve got my head
in my hands
most days when
I sit on the couch
and think about
how the news plays
on and on the same

look at me there with
my head in my hands 
as I sit on my butt
I’m a circle a wheel
a stone in a catapult
I just can’t
launch myself

through my TV screen
into the fire around
the scenes on screen so instead
I’ll drive fast and carelessly
into the next city town village over
See what happens — aw go on
Nothing’s gonna happen most likely

Most likely the worst
that can happen is a wreck 
and I’ll just be a tragedy
of my own making
The lights will be blue and benign
The tones of the news anchors  
will be mournful resigned

In the next life
I wanna be a boulder
no one can find a use for
until I’m hurled a little distance
over the walls of a fortress
I can wait till the next life
for someone else to get justice


Enough For An Encore

When his life had finally failed
to the full extent possible,
he screamed and wept out loud and 

his failure became as unto 
a drum solo that broke
the air in the room

so that all who were present
sat there flushed with the heat
of his shame and the beat

of this last collapse.
You really were wailing there,
man, said one to him after.

That was hot. He sat back down,
praying agony would grant him enough
for an encore. 


Nothing To Shout Out

Decent heart,
improper body.
Old story. In fact
old man story:
spirit too sour,
flesh and blood too sweet.

Thanks tonight to decent bed,
to rest and random touch.
Thanks to light through
blinds laying bars across
bedspread and bodies. Almost
how it was when I was confident;

cozied up almost to arrogance;
almost tight with it,
almost no light between.
Now there’s nothing to keep 
us together. Nothing in which
to glory. Nothing to shout out. 


Agony Light

Some memories
fall on you 

then stick hard,
burn like napalm.

Others slide down,
make happy gas puddles

where you splash
until the napalm

you already wear
ignites them.

You in flames forever, 
no matter

the pool or river where
you fling yourself,

seems to be what’s been
allotted for you.

You in flames no matter which
Bible verse, contrived or authentic,

you turn to 
for comfort.

You tell yourself
others will see better

in your agony light,
sustain themselves over your fire,

stay warm in darkness.
You tell yourself it’s enough

to be this and dry out within
until all you are is fuel.


Yesterday’s workshop…

Yesterday’s Zoom workshop on “The Poetry Of Place” had twelve participants and was, I thought, pretty successful. I’ll likely do it again in the summer or fall, with some tweaks to timing of activities (and maybe some prework…) but overall I thought the conversion of a live session into a Webinar was OK.  

Next time I’ll include the use of a couple of interactive tools I use in my corporate work to gain some more immediacy in practice sessions. I wanted to keep things simple this time around.

Thanks to those who attended, and I’m certainly going to add more topics to the menu over time.  If you have any ideas you’d like to see, you can put them in the comments…

T


Fallen

Of course you are cancelling
every appointment we’ve made
and now you are not speaking
in any way we like to call civil
or polite.

Meanwhile I’m
flat on my back
in a supermarket
where I’ve fallen in front of
the prepared foods and salads.

I don’t know how it happened.
No one’s trying to help me, except
for the worker who’s asking
if I need a cart for what scattered
from my arms when I hit the floor.

Of course there’s no point now
to thinking about missed jobs
and phone calls. The ceiling’s 
interesting. A bird’s flying from girder
to girder. He seems certain

of landing where he intends
to land. I’m afraid to rise as
I don’t know if on my feet will ever be
the right place for me to land

ever again. Of course no one’s
calling to offer me a place to land
that’s any safer than on my feet
so I can fall again. I might just stay here 
where having fallen is safer than waiting to fall.


Last day to join is today, Jan 20, for Sunday…

“The Poetry Of Place” will be held via Zoom on Sunday, January 22nd, 2023 at from 2 PM to 4PM EST.

In this workshop, we will look at how incorporating vivid, arresting sensory imagery can stimulate and energize your writing. We’ll look at examples of such poems and at some ideas about why this kind of effort is vital to The Work regardless of genre. (While we’ll be focused on poetry, you can use this information in long fiction, short fiction, etc., just as easily.)

Although the workshop will include some writing exercises and opportunities to share, it’s not primarily designed to be a generative session; I hope that instead you’ll leave with some ideas and a sense of what is possible when you “ground” your own Work in a strong sense of place.

For the record? I’ve got 30+ years of experience as a trainer and workshop facilitator for various corporations, non-profits, and government agencies, but this will be the first time I’ll use those skills for a personally developed topic. It likely won’t be the last…

The cost to the general public* is $35.00 for the session, payable through:

Venmo:
@Anthony-Brown-95
(if asked for a # after that, it’s 4124)

or

Paypal:
tony.w.brown@gmail.com

Last day to join up is Friday, January 20. **

I’d love to see you there. Drop me a line through here or at the above email address with any questions.

T

*Patrons of my Patreon site in the $10/month or higher tiers may attend for free.

** For security reasons and to help prevent Zoom bombing, I will send participants the Zoom link once payment is made or (for Patrons) once a confirmation message is sent to me on the site.


Some Place To Call Ancestral

I had my share of it, they say,
and now they don’t want me here.

One share, two shares, five shares, more:
who do you think you are, they say?

What do you think you are owed? 
Nothing, I say. All I want

is my name and a scrap of corner light
from my old bedroom. Some place

to call ancestral. I’m not
to the manor born but once

I squalled and squealed here
and I believe that still echoes.

I don’t believe this is about
what I’m owed or even about

who owes, you see. 
This is about honoring the part of me

that should have staked my claim
when I still trusted you.

I didn’t think I’d even
need to ask and now we are here,

or rather I’m here and you
are there with your stake and claim,

your chains and surveyor’s transit.
Mine, you say, as you set up 

on my stone. I don’t even want
that, I say. It’s dark here

and a little light
from the family window

would be enough for me.
Nothing more tangible.

Nothing that you need 
to surrender. 


Family Home

The darkness in this home 
is the depth of a hall closet

where things are hanging
that haven’t seen light in decades.

Dust and mildew, but also
whatever was left there

after the last family wedding
anyone remembers attending:

the brutal one. The terminal one.
The dark ceremony with all

the strength of its memory
breaking though and overwhelming

the shields of thin plastic 
draped over the shoulders

and lapels. It’s been decades
but there’s no room for anything else,

in the house, even if the door to the closet
closes again and locks hard. 


The Ghost Upstairs

The guy
doesn’t bother
taking the cover
off his unregistered car
to move it ten feet
down the curb. Didn’t hit
the neighbors’ car which is 
kind of a pity as that might have been
the last straw, 
last act in the ghost play — 
he’s been a squatting ghost
for far more than a year now;
lots of banging, lots of
dragging heavy things,
lots of late night
visitors, lots of doors
left open, not just unlocked,
wide open at all hours. 
Was supposed
to have moved at the end of last month
but something
went wrong with that
as has been the case
for the last three years between
the ‘vid
and the eviction moratorium.
Between compassion for him and 
agony for the rest of us. No, 
I don’t know or particularly care about
where he’s supposed to go.
Fatigue has put a cover over
my compassion. No,
I surely don’t know
where we were supposed to go
or what we’re supposed to have done.
Anger has torn the cover 
from my tolerance. 
All I know is the rest of us
are dog’s-old-bone tired
of living with the ghost
and if we don’t get some rest soon
someone’s going to
rip that cover off his car
and have it towed
straight to Hell while he 
chases it all the way down.


Last Stop

Long road. Decent
scenery. Occasional 
rock falls spilling onto
the shoulders, more often
sheets of gravel across pavement,
left there by runoff.
Careful, careful, you say.
Not too fast, you have
time. A long road
demands time, requires
attention when you
are this far
from one home
and not close enough yet
to a new one. There may not be
enough time left to get there
of course but on the way
you need to be careful, 
careful, especially as you
approach what you think will be
the destination.  Being
too eager is how you slip
from the road and go
over the edge, dragging rock
and gravel with you
as you roll screeching
your resignation all the way
to the silence that will flood 
your stop at the bottom.


Aging Into The Work

Begin
by switching 
from late night 
frenzy jags 
to mornings
before the coffee 
has finished brewing,
changing
your work wardrobe from
naked or T-shirts and briefs
in bed
to full dress
in whatever you decide 
to see as your office,
refusing to rely
on inspiration in bursts — begin
not carrying a notebook
everywhere and letting
the lines come and go within
as they see fit, trusting
the Work itself will put
those that would matter most
back in your hand when the time
demands it.  Continue like this
for as many years as you have left
to spend on it. It may be few,
it may be many, it may be
none at all and of course 
the Work itself
will continue without you
but when all is done,
take comfort in how
serious you were
about finding your own way
in your fading light.


One Over

They long to be
elsewhere

People who are not
in their places want to be
anywhere but where they sit

seeming to be
comfortable

Happiness
and ease don’t look
the same on everyone

They long to be
elsewhere and

it feels like my duty
to assist them and help
move them along

to their next place
It’s a sacred duty

We have a right
to move the uncomfortable 
to where they belong

and these people
clearly don’t belong

here in my neighborhood
They are smiling but
they look so lost

whenever we make eye contact
They look like they’d be happier

one street over
One town over
One country over


The Approach

The approach is through a field of nettles
on fire, crows rasping away from the woods
at the edges of the field, locusts shrilling
behind them, hunger in full cry 

over all. You must run out among those thorns
tugging you through whatever path
seems softest though no path here is soft
and the noise carries a still-greater sting.

That amplified voice of your choices, soundtrack
of the hard film you’ve made of your life, shall draw 
more blood than the nettles and more sweat
from the back of your neck than the fire behind you

ever could. The approach is in fact likely more important
than the destination and will long burn and echo within you.
You hope the arrival makes up for it
in all significant ways, even as you know

you’ll hear the soundtrack until you have no more life
to surrender to hearing it. There’s hope of a song unlike it
in the air of whatever’s beyond the pain. So:
will you go, lassie, go?

 

 


Birch

Revised from February 2022. 

I’ve been birch,
the definition of bent.
Look me up. See how weight
falls from me. It is how I am 
able to hold myself intact
within my pock-scarred,
inconvenient bark.

I’ve been oak,
stubborn unhollowed pillar.
Hear the rain of acorns denting what’s below me.
I am seen as somehow admirable 
until I fall and crush others,
or until someone else falls and is broken
while trying to pass over what I leave behind
year after year.

Now, I wish I had been sawgrass or perhaps
wild oats or purslane, enduring, closer to the soil;
or maybe some weed I cannot name now,
less obvious, more or less scarce or extinct;

but instead I’ve been
more than once
one of the trees we lean on
to provide us with metaphors
for falling and breaking,
ending and beginning again
in the breaking that follows a fall. 
Whoever can say it ends here
will free me from a cycle
built from splinters.