Poems by Michael Brownstein


You bundle your words into growls
and pitch them against the scars of others.
Aren’t you the grand one able to build
bonfires and lightning storms and one time
a great tornado. It is no wonder
plagues move away from you, history
repeats itself.

Listen to how you walk, my child,
words have nations behind them,
a cruelty that comes of guns and roses.
Listen to when you run, my child,
words are warlords, thick walls spiked into soil,
hard rock, cavities.

You hold a mustard gas strength,
a calcium storm, an ability to break breath,
but someone will end the horror, remove the fracture,
and, yes, child, let your words scamper like light
in soft drizzle, like light in translucent clouds,
like the butterfly awakening on the leaf,
the wind still, its cocoon empty,
every anger in voice someplace else.

The Summer We Had Forgotten

We drove a line through our bodies,
let the winter rain bisect our bones,
the summer swamp lands full our skin:
this is our inheritance.

Summer fell in February again,
June flowers gaining strength with March,
and we woke to birdsong and crickets:
This, too, we inherited.

The mosquito crop swarmed from the brown grass
ticks found homes by the beginning of April,
dengue, zika, blood blemishes, horse flies:


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), and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100F Outside And Other Poems (Kind of Hurricane Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011) and head administrator of Project Agent Orange (http://projectagentorange.com/).

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