THIS IS HOW SHADOWS LAY ACROSS CEMENT BLOCKS OR HOW MIST CAN BLOCK THE SUN

How he walked away had everything to do with everything.
How she held her breath without knowing as he left,
the view through the window off color somehow, more green than blue,
a haze over the mountains, the door closing,
the sudden nervous smell of concern and worry.
One day everything will be made clear,
a bird perhaps, a dog, maybe a giraffe.
The landscape will no longer be layered.
The light before the thunderstorm will make her brave.
Her hands will cease to open and close when she thinks of him.
She will know he was not the right tune hummed in the night lights.
She will understand the hypothesis did not favor the result.



A STOOD-UP KIND OF DAY

my dance card is not full,
           arson laced lady
 
outside the rain has stopped,
the fog lifting.
 
pumpkin pie
ala mode...
 
Vancouver.
a soft lust to day
 
Do you not want to dance?



SNOW AND STORMS

Midnight blue and white.
sleet, slush, ice slick and angry
tar black and camouflaged.

When the rain comes on, the sun heats the way,
gray exhaust of cars and buses,
all of the breath of all of the people.

Everywhere the liquid fog of open mouths
lifts one gas to let in another. 



A SHIFT IN THE FIELD

I have thought about this long and hard
and have decided I would rather die without you around me.
My father died alone in a basement bedroom 
in a house where people loved him.
My mother's second husband died surrounded by all of us—
peacemakers and enemies, silent and cordial.
My mother refuses to die.
I grant her thirty more years of living, healthy with grace.
My brother who fights death with guns and stretches,
I grant a second century...
His wife so small and handsome 
I grant the same and twenty years more.



THE COST OF NAGGING

She says she needs a loan against nagging,
The repetition of experience and phrase.
She says she has to pay back an already default,
Eight hundred becomes nine hundred,
Fifteen hundred becomes two thousand. 
I’ll get a loan, she says, there is too much noise,
Too much college college, too many minors,
To large an area of carpet to walk across,
Brush and briar, tumbleweed 
Everything yellow brown and dying. 



© Michael H. Brownstein  

Michael H. Brownstein’s work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Hotel Amerika, After Hours, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, and The Pacific Review. His eight poetry chapbooks include Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005).