IF I ONLY HAD A BRAIN
 
If we use only 8% of our brain,
as experts say,
then we have all those extra brain cells
waiting to be mined like emeralds.
 
There's so much brain going to waste
they ought to give some of it away
on the Price Is Right
or Wheel of Fortune.
 
Just think what we could do
with all that brain!
 
We could live in world harmony
for starters,
not that harmony's a priority
these days,
but, remember, we're only using
8% of our brain right now!
 
Eventually, we could travel
across space and time.
Hmm
but you know

that might diminish Andrew Marvell's
wonderful poem, "The Definition of Love."
 
Well, we'd have to get past
that transgression, but I've got faith
in the other 92%!
 
Yes, I believe we could finally crack the acorns
of religious rhetoric
littering our fossilized psyches,
since words are merely symbols
chosen to represent our pathetic lives in the first place.
 
Words do shape consciousness, though,
and most things associated:
the truth, lies, auto accidents, unnecessary grief,
and whatever else transgresses our daily lives. 
 
Words are minted in unlimited-limited editions
then marketed over cable TV.
 
Words are sold from university podiums.
 
They are pawned and mass-produced in the form of banal stories
for our children.
 
Words are legalized
pasteurized
and lumped together
in our awareness
waiting to sprout roots
beneath a razor-thin layer of solitude.
 
Ah, but the emotional energy between words,
a reality that glitters
behind the cleansed doors of perception
(those five mischievous sisters),
that gnaws at the exquisite hunger of younger poets
pushing violins through their long, curly, walnut hair.
 
With total brain power
our heads would be so far gone,
our heads would be in other galaxies,
reading their poets,
absorbing their music
which somehow has found a way
to combine all five senses
into a single musical experience,
creating
a legitimate sixth sense,
one that ignites the other five senses
simultaneously,
thereby establishing an entirely
new experiential reality.
 
So, the expanding brain's
the way to go? 
 
Now, I suppose our biggest concern is,
how do we make the expanding brain more profitable,
more advantageous,
so that we might manipulate the seasons,
control lightning,
or nudge killer hurricanes toward enemy shores?
 
THE NEWS, AS IT IS TODAY, JUNE 13, 2003
 
"Ode to My Socks" to me is just as significant
as "Prufrock."
 
Different nuances,
of course.
 
Creativity takes a myriad of forms.
Against all odds, human imagination
surprises, even overwhelms.
Sometimes it's hard to imagine the obstacles
that a humble man or woman overcomes
just to maintain simple existence.
 
Like gypsies people emerge from the fog,
their entire lives on their backs,
families huddled,
the elderly collapsed against
whatever allows them peace.
 
I believe one day, when thunder becomes symbolic again,
then and only then will we discover
the true nature of our existence,
heralded by trumpets, snare drums, and guitars lit like green fuses,
and violins with the lusty wings of palmetto bugs,
with Seminole artists pressing mystical murals into tiled walls
below the thatched roof of a North Palm Beach seafood restaurant,
or from a local high school in Baltimore County
a ghostly-pallored student
writing poems that dream of breaking
the latest sound barrier;
all these and more could erupt
into a single glorious moment
right beside adults aiming their remotes at the national news
(those environmentally controlled regions of consciousness)
with the sound of an 87 billion dollar walnut gavel
crashing down on the matching walnut table
of world politics.
 
 
COMMUNAL LOVE
 
(For Ruxandra Cesereanu)
 
First the French doors click
then my bones
and suddenly lights flicker
like a spirit tangled
in low ceiling fixtures
while passing through this basement room.
 
The guitar is purely Mexican.
 
The guitarist's fingers
tarantulas
tugging at the pouting lips
of the senora cantata.
 
The sound of piano keys
ice falling
from a wedding veil.
 
This ice quickly scooped
from the glistening counter
by a swift palm,
by elaborate machine guns.
 
In any event, the mistress
approaches the neon-lit bar
with a swagger
and melting stars on her shoulders.
 
Death looks her straight in the eyes
and she doesn't even flinch.
 

© Alan Britt

Alan Britt's recent books are Vermilion (2006), Infinite Days (2003), Amnesia Tango (1998) and Bodies of Lightning (1995). The Poetry Library (www.poetrymagazines.org.uk) providing a free access digital library of 20th & 21st century English poetry magazines with the aim of preserving them for the future has included Britt?s work published in Fire (UK) in their project.   Britt's work also appears in the new anthology, Vapor transatlántico (Transatlantic Steamer), a bi-lingual anthology of Latin American and North American poets, Hofstra University Press/Fondo de Cultura Económica de Mexico/Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos de Peru. Britt recently served as Panel Chair for Poetry Studies & Creative Poetry for the PCA/ACA Conference 2007 in Boston and read poetry at the WPA Gallery/Ward-Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River, NY (2008). In April 2009, he will deliver a presentation and poetry reading at Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ. Alan currently teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University and lives in Reisterstown, Maryland with his wife, daughter, two Bouviers des Flandres, one Bichon Frise and two formerly feral cats.