Even more extra

Just uploaded “A Head Of Flames,” an eBook of my selected poems from 2019, for download by my Patreon subscribers.

Patreon!


A little extra

As you know the name of the blog is “Dark Matter,” but the URL is “radioactiveart.blog.”

Here’s where the name came from. The poem goes back over 20 years, and can be found in the “Poems From The Slam Years” page on the blog if you want to read it.

I’ve had the music for it for a while, but only sat down to record it tonight. 

Hope you enjoy.

Radioactive Artist


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


The Ghost

If you dance with The Ghost in
a miasma of brown and red
If you stumble whirl
into their pit of mad violence
If you have no love
for those fallen underfoot
If you cannot bring yourself
to lift those broken to safety
If your fear of The Ghost
stifles your love of Living
If you cannot kiss without panic
and The Ghost insists
on tonguing your twitching mouth
If you cannot smile without screaming
and The Ghost demands
both smile and scream
If you fall writhing upon hearing all this
because you know The Ghost
knowing neither name nor face
If you are not yourself The Ghost
how can you keep dancing
knowing you are dancing in blood

merely because it is easy
merely because you know this music so well

you need not even listen


Another Failure

I keep seeking music 
in language, meaning
in both; all days

I struggle, most days
I fail, sometimes I catch
a tune, now and then

I fully sing, more rarely
something I sing
moves someone else,

maybe something
has changed somewhere
as a result, though I’m unsure

of that and do not trust
my hope for it. This is
what I am, what I have been,

what I have given myself to — 
and now? Nothing within
feels like music. Nothing within

but noise I’m not skilled enough
to transform, and to sit in silence
hums only of death

which is more meaning
than song,
and no language at all.


Stepping Outside

Get out of bed
and step outside

in short sleeves today 

when only a few degrees
keep the rain 
from becoming snow.

Your skin asks hard questions
of you: why now, why today,
why is this necessary? 

It’s not that you are
deathly cold, but it is
raw enough out here

to drive you to full waking;
why, considering everything, 
in the midst of all things

being on fire,
did you crave
the routine misery of cold and wet?

Was it to remind you
of other
possibilities?


Anywhere But Here Looks Good Right Now

In this slim hole
named home

angels of discord
jostle for primacy, 
raise up fresh dreams,
conjure new hybrids, misshapen 
offspring of dreaded ancestors
and fearsome strangers
who somehow look familiar;
bring to mind names
we are afraid to utter
for fear of them turning,
smiling, nodding, 
calling us kin.

Do you find yourself
wanting to run away? Do you
long for new and open country,
unfenced, empty and clear?
Do you find yourself yearning
to move somewhere new
and become someone new?
To escape these bitter demons?

More to the point: are you certain
you aren’t one of them yourself? Are you
running from yourself? Is it possible
that you are at heart, when faced with
what you consider unspeakable,

a colonizer?


The Haunting

how are you
he said,
worming forward 
from the foot of your bed

to where he could
see you better, him being
almost blind from years
underneath 

the corner dresser
in the dust where 
you’d forgotten him
that time when he fell

off the bed and rolled
under there and now
somehow he’s back
as familiar and needy as ever

but you aren’t having any
and when he gets close enough
you toss the covers
and off he flies again

into the corner
where he has lived
although you thought
he’d gone away years ago

and now you see he’s not
so what does that mean about you
that he’s back haunting you
getting this close to the new you

you’ve worked so hard to create
how are you, he said blindly
as if he couldn’t see how different
you are now

proof of that being
how quickly you fall back to sleep
and how little he shows up
in subsequent dreams

but in the morning
you move the dresser
sweep underneath it
and everything else in the room

leaving the curtains and blinds
flung wide and the windows open
for hours in an exorcism
that’s worked before and you hope

will work again because
this is what you deserve
a night free of his voice
and a home as fresh as a good wind


Episodes

1.
I came to this moment
with my head in my hands
and my hands wet from years of sobbing.

It was not a journey’s end.
It was being roused
from dumb despair to find myself

in precisely the same place
and position I’d started from,
having mistaken

long nights
of shaking and staring into darkness
for progress.  

Now I see that of course
progress is relational
and depends on how easily

people take hold 
of those around them
in the dark. With my head

in my hands and my tears
drowning me, with no one
to shake me free of it,

how could I ever
have seen
that I was not moving?

I could choose to look up
and dry my face
now that I know, of course;

I could pretend I recognize
any of these concerned faces
and reach out.

But progress is relational
and this is not progress,
I think, but a change

of set-dressing. Still
the same place, faces
changed but still

not quite visible.
Reaching out from here —
my hands so wringing wet —

who can hold onto me long enough
to help lift me? It is practically
guaranteed that I will slump again

into this. Maybe
this time I ought to agree
with the dark that I should remain

invisible to all including myself, or maybe
I should try to stand on my own, convince myself
there is a path out, a journey

that will end up somewhere else. I cannot tell.
Hope or foolhardiness
look about the same from here.

2.
I pull my head off my shoulders
and bowl it into those before me.
They fall like pins, and this time there’s no reset. 

I’m still sitting, headless
in darkness. It’s better.
The crying, at least, has stopped,

or at least is happening
somewhere
other than right here. I can’t hear it anyway,

what with my ears
on the detached head
that’s vanished into a pit

somewhere.
It will come back to me
changed. I’ll be alone

when I set it back onto
my shoulders and leave this place
for a real journey.

I won’t have to cry any more
or lose my place. I’ll be alone.
I’ll be gone. Loose headed

and so far gone, I’ll be on
a return track the whole time.
Around the world and back again.

3.
I came to this new moment
with my head back in my hands
and my hands once again wet.

But it’s different this time,
or so I tell me. This time
progress can’t be relational

because I can’t see any faces
around me when I lift my own
to look at where they were. 

I remember the sound
of them crashing away from me
so well now. It’s traveled

around the world
and back again. So loud,
as if it was still yesterday.

So loud I wish
my head had never
come back to me last time.

I bury it again
where it was,
where I tell myself it belongs.


Gears

sand in gears

teeth scratched
cracked

gaps

hard stop

I hear 
breakage

I cannot look

anything there
still running

right
won’t be running
long

a failed machine
is such a common machine

I am full
of sand

I am
that common


Early To Rise

I take a moment upon rising
to adjust my Whiteness
for the coming day.

Set the beard straight,
suppress irrelevant facets
of my core being, put on
the palest face I have.

I’d turn on 
the television
for background noise
as I fetch coffee
but I’m so damn tired
of Europe and its tropes.
Sick of Thor and Halloween, 
the fat man in the red suit
for equinox 
ritual. Sick of Jesus, 
sick of Karl Marx, sick of
donuts and latte, 
grand theft disguised
as industry, the right way
to walk, the proper way
to talk — 

I have so little of who I am
beyond that,
having been robbed
of most of my Other before birth;

after, found myself pummeled 
with family expectations
and contrary exhortations,
explanations as to why,
in spite of my White body 
and White schooling
and White Messaging,

I’m still Other and
don’t ever
forget it, son, said my dad
who tried not to forget
the little he had left of 
his Other.

Don’t ever
forget it, son, said my mom
who had set herself up
for never quite loving
her Other. 

Don’t ever
forget it, kid, said the members
of the family who couldn’t
forget it either though
they did not quite approve
of Other.

Before the year begins
I take one more moment
in the mirror
and there is all that Whiteness
spilling out of my pores and 
look at that hair and
diabetes and depression and
loveless moving through clients
and taxes and worry and
face it, I’m too near unto death 
to change; maybe it’s time
to just fall all the way into the bleach
since when I strain to hear my Other,

most days all I hear 
are gasps and screams
in a tongue I can’t understand.

They tell me
the source of my Other
met the source of my Whiteness head on
over 500 years ago
and did not win then but 
oh, it survives in me

in spite of Jesus and Thor and Marx
and John Maynard Keynes and 
white sale linens pressed hard over my face,
in spite of 
the Vikings and the chiseled superheroes;
the way they wear their hats;
the way they kill low-key.

No, I say as hard as I can, no, Europe;
no to your culture and your counterculture;
whatever it offers
I don’t want any more of that — 
I am Other. 

Except I’m Whiteness.

Except I am Other.
Except I’m not.

Like petals pulled
in that kids’ game —
love, love not,
embrace, repel;

I bet that game 
of destruction as play
came 
from Europe too.


Rising Now

rising now
you are 
leaf upon wind
lifting you
from where
you’d fallen

you dip and whirl

how can you possibly regret
losing your grip
upon the tree
that raised you

when this is how you are now
for however briefly
this last flight lasts


Love Song For The New Year

Originally posted 12/31/2011.

Every day starts a year.
Every day ends one.
Any day can be celebrated,
any day regretted.

Regret one day
for one day,

let celebration
of the next begin.

All I need for
any year or day: 

one with whom
to celebrate,

one with whom
to commiserate,
one with whom to share

the New Year of every single day.

Just one with whom to straighten
up after the labor,

one with whom to soothe
and be soothed;

one with whom
to start anew

each daily
New Year’s Day.


The Earworm Scripture

I’ve been humming
the worst song in the world
for hours now
because I heard it
in a convenience store
when I was unguarded enough
to let it in and now it’s burrowed
deep. (There is a reason
they are called earworms, after all.)

The Nagging God
who has been an earworm to me almost from birth
repeats incessantly (in time to the beat)
that I have no one but myself
to blame for this. That if I’d been
a little more diligent and not stepped away
from my desk to go get smokes
and a very big and very bad coffee,

I’d be sitting at home in silence
with nothing to do but write something 
much better than this pop-slop mess
I’ve got to deal with now. 

Nagging God, I say, how can
pacing my room and procrastinating
and cursing my deaf muse
get me this level of punishment?
I wasn’t hurting anyone but myself
and now i’m getting downright
homicidal, suicidal, even
deicidal over this constant barrage
of alleged music inside.

God says nothing, just keeps singing.

How can
anyone claiming divinity
be this off-key, I wonder…
which leads me to another 
blasphemy and then to a sudden
heresy, followed by epiphany — 

and wonder of wonders,
here I am with a symphony playing
out of the pen in my hand.


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.