Wednesday, April 30, 2008

May 2008




















This month features Michael Brownstein

CHICAGO

I have come back to this place of snow
and frozen water. A hard wind forces
snow snakes across plowed asphalt. Already
the white shine of winter is dirty grey.
I have heard the tall buildings make this place
immune to tornado. Once Stephen and I
walked from the bus stop to our apartment,
the wind like infantry at close quarter.
Stephen flagged a cab with a block to go.
We have hurricane winds, but no hurricanes;
a rising lake, but no floods; accumulations of snow,
but no whiteouts. I have traveled far.
It is late and it is not late. Stephen collapsed
on a bus, an episode of the brain, and vanished
into a system offering little help. I moved
to a house ravaged by squirrel and termite.
Snow covers dead leaves I do not rake.
A small pond in the back is half frozen.
Dead weeds bend to the wind, break. Lately
I have worried over a legacy, my daughter
hiding in the closet crying; my son
on his dinosaur rug placing models
of komodo dragons and tribobibites,
pumas and saber toothed tigers,
men and broken pottery.


THE COLOR NEAR THE RIVER

Gray bricks of mud
and silver water bandaging itself.
A swale and a bottom wetland,
the paper wasp nest, the paper birch,
a stream and the log covering it.
Somehow a stronghold of buckthorn,
poison berry, a groundswell of root.
Can you not see it? Mud hard dried,
sun dried, hand dried, chapped
gray and leather.


COME STAY WITH ME AND BE MY NIGHT

Come stay with me and be my night,
We’re done with dinner’s clutter
As stars blister through the moonlit light.

Water anchors moon streams white
Across the wake, across the cutter.
Come stay with me and be my night.

The children at peace, everything’s right,
Goat milk, huckleberry bread, apple butter.
Stars blister into pimpled light.

The children dream, the wind grows slight,
The storm is but a mutter,
Come stay with me and be my night.

Now comes a fullness full and bright,
Leaves skip across the gutter
As stars blister into moons of light.

My love is strong. It knows to fight.
I no longer need to stutter.
Stars blister through the moonlit light.
Come stay with me and be my night.


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.

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