HIGH ON HER MOUNTAIN, THE WITCH BITCH WARMS HERSELF

The witch bitch wakes hungry
ice on her breath,
clouds caught in her hair,
her underwear gray and red,
warts sprawled across her arms.
There are always people who are meant to harm you.
The witch bitch is not one of them.
She can dig a shallow grave, 
pray over a cat at play with a mouse,
squash a scorpion between thumb and forefinger.
The witch bitch sees the dormant volcano
through an opening in her wall,
the sudden rise of steam, the push 
of ash like wet sand,
the beautiful collapse of the dome.
She walks onto her veranda,
folds her small hands into a smile,
and watches the mountain catch fire. 



A HARD TIME IN FOUR PARTS
 
1.
 
the starlight of the little girl’s eyes
 
: abrasion 
 
: a wrath of drying wind
 
2.
 
This is not good that it is happening.
 
ethnicity of strength / a phobic of anger
 
the rich of Bangladesh, the rich of Chad,
the owner of the empire in the 
vacated city by the boardwalk 
 
3.
 
men drift in ones
clusters
 
cars pull into the driveway
a pickup truck
moving vans
 
Always the illegal asks to sit in the cab.
 
4.
 
My little girl wants the light to come in,
but I am partial to dark.
She complains until doors open
 
holes to the sun,
gardens of bright flowers, 
pink petals, purple leaf,
a shimmer across wet grass.
 
I remain in the bedroom
where windows contain shadow
and a trellis of thick wood blocks in the night.
 
—It should be a crime to be born poor in America.
Richard Dynis



A GREAT SWAMP OF SNOW

Wake up: It’s time for us to go to sleep.
You cannot budge the great taste of potato chip soup
and, yes, there is no passion left to you,
only bloodlines and connections, 
calcite and too much water, 
valves and bits and pieces of copper
We can always destroy what we do understand.



©  Michael Brownstein

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, After Hours, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review and others. In addition, he has eight poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005).

Brownstein teaches elementary school in Chicago’s inner city, studies authentic African instruments with his students, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators and the State of Illinois Title 1 Convention, 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.