For Tika


No one wants to read a poem about dead pets,

a dog scratching its way to a fresh dug hole,

its throat punctured, its heart and thorax crushed.


No one knows why the magic leaves the mind,

why words stop forming to end a rhyme,

how images fade into cloud-work and night skies.


The shovel is thick and sharp, the earth soft from rain,

the weeds and grass gone under the feet of more dogs,

the fence sturdy as bone, sturdy as movement in muscle.


One grave already bears witness to the violence of nature,

another to the ignorance of us as we eat into the ground

developing and building and tearing down


what we need to live out our lives in comfort.

No one wants to read a poem about a dead dog, Pets die.

We bury them. Then we wash our hands and eat.





I was raised on a farm with no indoor plumbing

and her long strands of rainbow and leprechaun glitter slides down

her back.

LetÕs remember Michael, she says.

This is not the story of my life.


Sometimes the heart of a smile is in its spray of joy and jasmine;

other times, silver beacons, clear weather smooth.


This is a love poem that ends badly,

a death song chanted and varnished, hung to the heavy air of distemper,

trolled through unforgiving, indifference, lust and cruelty.


Black ice scowled the curve of the highway.

Michael's pick-up truck could not hold on.

They found him in the morning in a field of ice

dead and frozen, his head unmarked,

the doors easily opened.


Her eyes pastel shaded and easy,

blue with flecks of grey and brown,

a brightness waking the neighbors at roosterÕs calling. 


I wish to remember Michael, she says,

his kind hands and blistered fingers,

his long feet and narrow knees,

his way of talking without an accent

his way of touching my hair with fairy dust.


Audrain County,

deer run across fields of energy

dissolve into stars when night covers the moon.

There is a legend that tells us when the deer bed with the dawn,

itÕs their watchfulness that brings the sun to this side of the world

and their wakefulness that sets it to sleep.


Love poems are made of trite blocks,

walls that climb vines to places common.

a blazing virus entering a Garden of Eve's.


She has a brother and sister of the dawn,

well lit and satisfied,

and she can run with the best of them

and lead the herd to safety



So love goes.





--because of Paul Cˇzanne


Well earthed

the paintings tossed into the orchard


wind sharp as branches,

dust and mold drunk on oils,

thick leaves exhaust their greens,

sometimes fruit expires 

and then one afternoon,

the artist returns,

harvests her work,

scarred and colorful,

wind injured and wonderful,

takes them inside,

fills empty stomachs. 



© Michael H. Brownstein