Issue 14

Poetry: Michael H. Brownstein

Water and a Lack of Wire

Stress lines are not the stretch marks of love
the way a man is more notable from the outside
as if chicken wire can drill barbs into skin,
bring the power of anger against the scrotum,

the one point arteries open like clothing,
one lover to another, a moment of passion
an anger we do not need to know, but do.
Hang the foreskin from the flaps of the window,

bury the femur in piles of ash,
tear holes in the hairline for a mask.
Eventually everything is mad cow disease,
corn sugar, processed food, tiny parasitic worms.

The Set of Her Body

I look at the set of her body, the style of range, the linoleum on the patio, the robin’s nest in the eave of the front porch, the wino sipping whiskey out of a glass bottle in a paper bag on the front stoop. She is afraid to go outside until he leaves. I go outside and sit next to him.

Inside the windows mirror self-satisfaction and overcast skies. Outside the sky is true blue and the sun bright white. He offers me the bottle and I decline. He pulls a broken pair of sunglasses out of his pocket and puts them on. “I feel cooler now,” he says and takes another drink.

When I go back inside, she has put on her pretty dress and is standing in the room she has named MY FANCY ROOM. The room is empty space with the exception of a rich thick handmade rug on one wall and another on the hardwood floor. I look at the set of her body. I reach for her waist. “You are in need of a tune-up,” I whisper, and she nods, yes, handing me her arm. I begin to tighten her strings.

Wouldn’t you know it is at that exact moment a car backfires down the street, a man shoots a stranger with a shotgun two blocks over, and suddenly there is the symphonic opera eclipse of sirens rushing to the just now explosion in the industrial part of town.

I sit against the wall and look at the set of her body. This is too much to carry in my head. The set of her body…the design of her dress…the broken strings in my hand…