A Need for More than Sleep
slinking, linking, drinking
blinking, blinking, blinking
four dollars more sleep to go
the headache lust in the mall
the headache does not know its place
the headache, snug
the headache in two manglescripts
one within reach
the other wet and cold, outside the door in the snow
you make a miracle and nothing else comes of it
a puzzle and boulder
a bounty and pebbles
a rookery of root and rock
this knead of living on a tongue depressor and condom
the tree hid a dinosaur in its shape
the tread of hair and skin (her skin)
the disorder of distraction
nor will it be by one of the many gods belonging to anyone of us
After the Fact
It's time for me to retire, the dead man said.
Retire from what?
I don't know. I can't catch the rain.
When the world comes to an end not by swamps of jellyfish
thriving in acid pools nor by one of many gods belonging to anyone of us
but late at night the moon whitewashed and gravy
the heart letting go of its last Nigerian beat
a shadow drum, a conch, a Burkina gita
each beat softer whispering softly
the brain pauses for a second and allows itself to turn itself off.
You do know you're dead?
I want to see yellow sweet clover one last time, the dead man answered.
And your world--, the other man said, your world is dead, too.
You Live the Life You Live and Then You Live the Life You Live
you live the kind of life you live
this from the gift of nails
this from the gift of corn
a psoriasis of snow
a king enters the space between panes of glass
and sees the walls beyond them
this is his kingdom of anticipation
when the wise man comes to the great room
he joins his king and looks into the middle
he too sees great walls, but he sees also a great door
a line of foundation
darkness lit only by a single bulb
a gift of shadow
the rust in the corner is rust in the corner.
Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Cafe 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 a Hurricane Press, 2012). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011). Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago's inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators, designs websites and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others.