Category Archives: uncategorized

Highlight, Lowlight

Highlight of the day:
the moment
before waking

Lowlight: waking, then
the low-uttered “dammit”
that follows opening my eyes

Falling back to sleep
is a cheat almost as bad
because I will have to wake up again

I’m not saying
this categorization
will last forever

I’ve had the disorder too long
not to know better
but at the same time

it’s so tiring to be
so selfish about my own discomfort
at my continued breathing

Shameful as any scandal
in the face of this horrid world
that’s cracking now 

is the notion that I 
matter enough to be
my own focus

when truly no one
cares about what I do unless
it advances the cause

of dignity and equality
for all
even for the mood-crazed millions

like me who are
dying from
imbalance

That is why 
I am ashamed to wake up
and feel so disgusted at my being

that I cannot move
without stumbling over and mumbling
about my inadequacies

I’ve had it better than most
and I seem so trivial to the world’s spin
that my own issues are afterthoughts

The highlight of my day
is unconsciousness 
The low point is when it ends

Everything in between
is a burden drawn out
for one more day

in a lifetime
much longer
than necessary

If you find this 
selfish and contemptible
you are not alone

If you read this
shake your head and 
mutter “dammit” 

then we are family
cousins in arms
against this waste 


3500 poems…

3819. That’s the number of days that have elapsed since January 1, 2010.

3500. That’s the number of new poems I’ve posted on this blog since then, counting today’s post. A little under a poem a day for a little under 10.5 years.

I have more than that on the blog from before that date, transferred here from LiveJournal (no idea how many — too much work to figure it out when so few had tags back then); have digital files of a couple thousand more going back to about 1996; more in notebooks and binders back to the early 70s; more lost to time and the mysteries of moving and mildew, I’m sure.

So — I don’t want to double that number for an overall total, but maybe 6000 or so total lifetime? Maybe there are only a few out of that that are worth holding onto, but I still hold on to them.

If it seems obsessive to do this, you should know that I refer to this record keeping as “the Pursuit of the Meaningless Goal.” It was something suggested to me by a therapist years ago as one way of controlling one aspect of the symptoms of bipolar disorder — I won’t say more than that.

It’s part of the continuing effort to say that the Work, the body of Work, is more important than any one poem to me.

I’m going to take a few days off, I think. I have things to do elsewhere. Just needed to note the moment.

Thanks for reading.  Plenty more to read here. 


Incident On R Street

Third floor neighbors
call the cops
because one floor down from them
a crowd of people
we don’t recognize
are smoking crack,
and one floor down from that
all I can hear is the noise
of heavy stumbling on
the kitchen floor, bedroom floors,
bathroom floor, living room floor
above me…

Third floor has a newborn
and they’re a little bit upset
at second floor’s disarray and clamor,
how we all had roaches for a few months
because no one there took out the trash
and now we’ve cleared that up —
but who are all these people
anyway?

Third floor wonders
why the cops don’t come
to see to the second floor.

I know they won’t.

They didn’t come for my break in,
and when they came later on
for the one next door
they told me it was my fault
for living in 
this neighborhood.

The only time they’ve ever come
to rattle our doors
was in the deep of the night
when a roommate died
from a fentanyl kiss
on the second floor 
years ago.

So I sit and wonder
about the limited potential
for there ever to be
a big blue knock
on the building door,

badges and flashlights
and guns asking me
to let them in
to the hallway to
the floors above me,

fat chance of anything at all
unless someone dies

or is about to die…

What answer should I make
to a knock in the night
from someone who thinks
any pain on this street
is well-deserved?

No idea, but

we need something 
that doesn’t look like this,
like any of this. 


Delicious

How delicious it would be
to have a world that did not require
all this thinking — where instinct
and emotion were enough to carry civilizations
from birth to death — where guns
and brawn were acceptable in the face of
disease — where fear of the unknown
was codified into quick and dirty law —
where the individual could stand supreme
as long as they did not stand out too much
within the ranks — there would only be
a handful of Gods to choose from (if that)
to simplify the view — there could be
cultural differences if they were colorful
and easily adapted to commerce or control — 
where those who dared to philosophize
or speculate could be swiftly neutralized
or vaporized — where appropriate addictions
could be nationalized — where the bees 
flew in diminished numbers away from us
when we went outdoors — where the oil content
of every river basin was measurable
and extractable — where the sharks 
stayed in the movies — where the scent of sex
was routinely worn behind the ears — 
where flowers bloomed in the right beds
and only the right beds — where it all went away
at night — where night went away in the daylight —
where daylight was a property — where we all
understood the Rules and nobody balked at them
except to volunteer as a cautionary tale —
where the flags flapped regardless of wind —
where the wind blew regardless of flags —
where thought was good only for counting coin — 
where coins looked their best on closed eyes —
where all our eyes could be closed at any time.


Note on my page links

I recently updated the list of links on my page, something I hadn’t done in years. A lot of them were broken or vanished.  Added “Bourbon, Cigarettes, and Syllables”, for instance; someone who’s a recent commenter and fellow poet.

Gotta help each other out.

I’ll be looking over more blogs and adding them over the next little while.  Lemme know if you want in and I’ll check you out; or let me know if you don’t want in and I’ll leave you out. Whichever.

T


Note to readers of this blog

I’m going to take a short break from adding poems here, and from writing in general.  

I’m not exactly in a creative lull; more that I’ve got a few things going on that need more attention from me and health issues are draining my energy for all endeavors. While normally writing is the last thing that I reduce time for, it’s time I tried something different to see if it helps. 

For those of you who read daily, many thanks. You keep me going, and I’ll be back soon. I promise.

In the meantime, there are over 3300 poems on this blog going back to 2010, and more available before that in the archives that were transferred from my old LiveJournal pages. I’d love to have you check those out.

In addition, there is an ongoing community on my Patreon site (https://www.patreon.com/TonyBrown) where I discuss various aspects of the work.  I’ve collected some of my poems into eBooks there, and will be releasing my selected poems of 2019 shortly.  It’s only $1 a month to join at the most basic level, and that gets you access to video blogs, new music releases, and the like. Higher donations get higher rewards, of course.

I look forward to seeing you all again soon.  

Onward,
Tony


Don’t Break

If this feels more like
the end of all things
than the beginning of 
some new thing, consider

my cats in their respective windows
and the feeding birds a few feet away
on the other side of the glass;
how in spite of cold and sleet out there

and the impenetrable barriers in here
they all continue to feed and fly
and watch and hope from their
present circumstances. Consider

these perfect little killers
stymied every day and still waiting
for their chance; consider the sparrows
and nuthatches blithely perching

within an easy jump if only
the glass wasn’t there. Consider that —
then consider where you and I are, where
we all are in this moment — what if we are

not meant to be observers, but are instead
the glass between the killers and prey?
What if our place is between the end of everything
and the beginning of something new,

and all that is asked of us, really,
is simple: hold on, don’t break. Not yet.


Naming The Cloud

Rumpelstiltskin
wasn’t playing

Tore himself in half
once he was named

Naming
your cloud is 
most of the
work

It prefers
to stay
anonymous

Without a name to call it
one can’t conjure it
or dispel it

so what shades you
what is following you
what nameless 
block of gray is that 
riding over you

when you look for the stars
what is between you and them

what is stealing your baby
in return for a heap of straw
spun into gold

should you even
call that gold
that barn-shit straw
masquerading as gold

which lies of your parents
do you need to un-tell
what names should you give them
what names should you cry
to see them dispelled

Rumpelstiltskin
wasn’t playing
when he refused to give his name

and your cloud 
that storm above you
forever and always
isn’t saying a thing
you don’t already know 
somehow

Naming the cloud
is the main part of the work
that’s needed
to break the sky
to see stars


Pug And Wolf

I had just left the trash at the curb
and turned back to the house

when I had a flash of fantasy:
a pug was sitting 

on the porch, speaking to me
of winter. 

Back in the house
with coffee and comfort now,
I can’t recall what the dog said.
Rolling possibilities over themselves

I try to jolt myself
into falsehood, telling myself
it was not a pug
but a wolf
and ancestral truth had been
offered to me at last,

but I know it was a pug.
I know I cannot recall the message
precisely because
I want it to have been a wolf.

I want to have been chosen
by something
stereotypically pure,
faithful to what my whiteness demands of me:
that any time nature speaks
it must speak to the brown in me
and not to the hybridized me,
most certainly not to the aging urban poor
me, the crumbling me who 
spends his vision quests at a keyboard.

What’s happened

is that even when I am given a vision
I can’t see it
because I’m wrapped in a lie
and cannot see the truth 

that I’m a pug here myself,
a pug in winter; cloud forming
before my nose, so close to my eyes
I am blinded by
my own breath.


Heads up

Sorry for the reduced output of late.  Dealing with an attack of something stomach related, possibly pancreatitis, and it’s knocked me for a loop.

I’ll be back in form in the next day or so.

T

 

 

 


the American quiet

in the American quiet
a voice that 
in other countries
is plain and 
acknowledged
becomes a nuisance,

an unnecessary
trumpeting of what
the American quiet claims
is so obvious it is
unnecessary to say it:

that people 
have a right to 
redress and 
even the rudest hint
of protest is still
to be honored

but in the American quiet
all you hear
is that the rudeness
of the hint negates
the gaping scream
of the sacred cry 
it portends

you could drown in the American quiet
and no one would hear you scream


I Burn Twice

It is lazy to call this fatigue
or exhaustion. It is evil
to call this resignation or
surrender. I don’t have the right
to surrender or resign. 
By being ill and tired
I am doing evil. Smaller evil, maybe,
than others do; nevertheless
my exquisite miniature wrongs
enable Evils larger than mine
by geometric measures of scale
and so I am part of them.
I can tell myself every lie
in the big book of denial
about this, justify
a greed for self care

until I am exhausted
from that alone; in the end
neither self-talk
nor self-coddling will matter
when everything begins to burn;
all fingers will point at me,
the lazy demon,
as I burn twice, and I will howl
not from pain alone,
but in agreement
with your disgust.


Friday Night Guitar Poem

On a Friday night
I have a date with 
my guitar
a bundle of weed
and all my insecurity

because in the afternoon
I was bound by frail family
to their service
and in the morning I felt
every twinge of my chronic diseases

I need to get back to the doctor
but I can’t make myself go
because of what they might tell me
and I can’t let my family go
because of what they might call me

while we’re at it
I am only surreptitiously fighting the beasts
who are owning the world right now

I ought to buy a gun
to kill a fascist 

but I know
my hands make me a terrible shot
unless the gun is pressed 
against my head

I do the research 
compile names
addresses and hatreds
but who is going to care
among my gentle friends 
who are sure that love will conquer all
once they are bulldozed 
into the poisoned earth
I need to seize the guitar
the way I used to hold my pen
before I stopped writing poems
in favor of playing guitars
with these broken hands
full of dead nerves that hate me
as I have grown to hate so much

all I want is one good touch
all I want to love is one good person

but instead I fear the voice inside saying
fuck black brown white
center left and right
America
and the rest of the world
(the dolphins too)
and all the love the great unknown holds tight
instead of letting it flow

I want to hold my guitar
and play it loud
drown out the butchers
claiming my dying ears
for their own

singing me hemorrhage songs
drawing me into their arms

I’m tired of you if you think this is
remotely a good poem
remotely a prayer
can’t see this is a wound opening with a hiss
once cherished blood
(yours and mine) flowing out
on a Friday night

you ought to
thank God for this guitar
in my hands
which is not at all a gun


Leaf

I pick a leaf off my windshield
in a parking lot far from home.
It does not look like a tree there
I can recall, nor any I can see now;
it must have fallen to the glass
somewhere along my way here
and now it is far from home, 
as am I. I toss it to the ground
where it will soon rot and join
the soil, its foreign voice adding
to the patter of this place and 
who knows what will happen 
as a result; I will have played
in that a small part, a carrier’s part,
my own role near-unconscious,
soon forgotten by me in spite of
this poem and unknown to all others
in spite of this poem that itself
might soon fall and rot and disappear
into the earth, there to make
something happen none of us 
can currently foresee. Without much hope,
I daydream 
the potential here
in this parking lot 
too far from home.


Not Getting Over It

I don’t get over it
no matter what it is. It 
invariably looms over
me like some sheer
cliff for more or less time
and sticks in my memory
for longer.

I’ll likely be the same
(more or less) afterward
but shall be 
more defined
by having gone through it,
whatever it is. In the past 

it’s been many different things;
some were steeper
and sharper and cut me 
to form more starkly. 

Whatever it is or will be
I will expect 
pain,
will expect to be modified:

to be made into something
meant to be left behind
as it stalks off 
towering
into my past —

something to be cast off.

I won’t have a chance to get over it
because it will be gone

before I can even try.