LEMON GRASS SOUP
They told us the quality of sanitation depended on the size of the chairs.
I will no longer need to carry a gun.
They told us bottled water was safer than boiled water and not every facility had the capacity to boil that much water.
I will no longer need to murder a man, cause his heart to break and take his ear for my collection.
When they sat us in the room where the Communist Party ate, the waitress apologized when she seated us at our table.
I watched the blood coagulate into the dirt, hot and thickening.
They told us the lizards on the beams did not impact on the flavor of the food.
The murdered man did not have to be buried. By nightfall much of him was gone and by morning the bone collectors began their work.
We did not sicken and we ate chom choms and sour sop and watermelon the size of a fist.
We drove a line through our bodies,
let the winter rain bisect our bones,
the summer swamplands fill 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:
What we inherit is what we are given.
AN HOUR AGO NOTHING MUCH HAPPENED
What is it
–a week ago–
sleeping in the dragonfield mines?
:the breath of passion flower overhead
the jaws of the dandelion
the strength of blood tulips craning their stems through the shadow growth
how many times
–the first week in May–
slipping through the fired lisps of dragon teeth?
:a wealth in persimmon juice
a poverty of lilies of the mountain west of Maine
the drawback of the morning glory
–no rhyme left–
a wild moon over the timber wolf trees,
the injury of silt within their branches,
plastic sawdust forced into block and stone:
Here is the arithmetic for everything mammal,
ancient trees carve out mud and brick,
one boulder leans against pebbles for support.
A LITTLE BIT OF A LOT OF BRAVADO
What makes a foot stumble into a stroke
of leaf and digestion, a currency of blood
pleasure? Nothing counts more
than the hot house of bunions, the mix matched
alliance of mismatched bone alignments.
The Jaypore witch drops a ball of thread
gently to the sleeping man on his bed pallet,
places the other end into her mouth
and sucks his blood. This was an enemy’s
enemy, a child of plums and no matter.
SLEEP AND INSOMNIA
The composting of sunset
Blue veined sky and white haired dust
The all night conversers on the adjacent porch
Brilliant teal textured lights of Shrunken Head
The traffic of bright lights on Ash Street
Do you remember the time
You woke from an afternoon nap
And immediately worried that you slept
Through an entire day, did not call your job,
Or anything? Thankfully there is time and date.
Now you wake to a darkness that feels like dawn,
But the stars are not out, the moon is blocked,
A breeze brings in moisture.
Night has just begun and you worry
It’s already daytime. Go back to sleep.
Leave the worry to those without dreams.
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).