Skip to main content

Tony Brown

How To Speak Of Death To Your Fellow Americans

To begin with, take off your funeral suit
but do not put it completely away
in the back of the spare room closet.
Do not forget how it looks on you
and how often you’ve had to wear it.

When you begin to speak, remember
that some folks have never been to
the number of funerals you’ve attended.
Some have never been to any
and will not understand a word you say
but talk anyway. Some don’t believe
people die as often or as unfairly
as you know they do

and you will not make them feel grief
easily or quickly. Talk anyway; you might need
visual aids. Some only see death
when it’s as close as the next room
so when you speak of death to them,
you will have to simulate the sound
of death knocking on the adjoining wall
to make them understand.

Some of them will smirk and speak
of Darwin and some will speak of Jesus.
All of these people will speak of what is right
and what is deserved; most will stare you down
and shout the word “justice.” Talk anyway, seeking
those among them who, even as they sneer,
will avert their eyes. Talk to them; ignore the rest.

Many of them will be the kind of people who say,
“If I die…” Show them your funeral suit; tell them
how often you’ve worn it; show them the shiny cuffs,
the worn tie tucked in the pocket after the church hall
reception; say the names of the dead and how often
they died saying, “if I die…tell them how
I was killed. If I die, make it mean something. If I die,
remember my name.”

Maybe you will say something to someone that will work
but don’t put away your funeral suit after that.
Don’t bury it deep. Don’t assume you’ll get to wear it again
only when they put you at last into the ground.



This My Body

This, my body:

nondescript and hard-regretted tattoos,
pedestrian piercings, a belly hung
over the belt line, badly crusted feet,
wounds long healed in the skin if not
in the tissues below. I claim the title of
man covered in evidence of mistakes
that led to this being, this now.

Some would say do not fall into the trap of comparison
but here I am staring into my own eyes, seeing
coal mountain strip mine, railroad cut
in New England granite, shoreline wasted
under washed up oil and the garbage of decades.
I claim the title of warning shot, alarm
long ringing and long ignored.

Old friends stand aside,
watch me self-inspect; they do not interfere.
Who knows me, knows I will go hard upon
this dark body, down this long tunnel called old man,
will mine it until I can draw out gold from poison.
I claim the title: I am temple of hard road.

Tony Brown has been writing for over 50 years, and publishing and performing his work for over 40. A seven-time Pushcart Prize and two-time Best Of The Net nominee, he has traveled the country, slammed for the Worcester Poets’ Asylum, and organized and hosted many readings and reading series. His most recent eBooks and publications can be found through his Patreon site (https://www.patreon.com/TonyBrown). His daily poetry blog is available at http://radioactiveart.blog . He resides in Worcester, MA. Tony most commonly performs his poetry with The Duende Project in collaboration with Steven Lanning-Cafaro on electric bass and classical guitar, Christopher Lawton on guitar, and Chris O’Donnell on drums;  They have released six collections of their work, available on all the usual online streaming and download outlets. More information can be found at their Website: http://theduendeproject.com


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg  We saw a deer through the pane into someone else’s yard. The leg moved like a tube sock pinned to the hip  and half filled with sticks. I did not like to see it suffer, either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped  the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction  of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true.  We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet  in those moments of a cold November day, we watched  a doe, disabled and enduring, walk across a yard and eat  a hedge. I wish she could have seen it like that. Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline,

Beneath the Chickenshit Mormon Sun by Bruce Embree

I've posted this before, on a depressing day probably just like this one. This poem makes me feel better. That's all I have to say on that. It turned out worse than I thought The champion defended his title then Eldridge Cleaver came on to talk about his reasons for becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Grandma and I damn near fell out of our chairs Went to town and got crazy drunk Came back home, called you long-distance after cruising and drooling Mainstreet again This is my last wish and love poem It is as follows Want to hold the wake at noon with plenty of acid and rum No friends and relatives Ghost music by Hendrix and the Byrds drowning all sound as you fuck me to dust beneath the chickenshit Mormon sun. Links:  http://www.limberlostpress.com/authors/161embree1.html

Bree

No Mote black swans i almost didnt see but for their glowy beaks red as sumac- they didnt match the dark tones of lake, stuck out like your lust for me while i read to the children all cloistered- who could hear me even from the colonnade, all hickory and hops-vine, where i saw you watch me from inside a white willow tree. mergansers with their heads trailing swam among dead stakes of lotus. that belted kingfisher bode us a good day, and returned the children to their cages below bald cypress knees so naked i had to look away. you willowed no longer, i took leaf to mean wing, and feather to mean ivy. i took a shaded path back to the armory. it got hot and thick and i could breathe more heavily, rapt on high, no mote of hope. Bree is a poet and visual artist living in Pleasureville, KY. Her Green Panda Press has put out hand-made chapbooks, anthologies and sundry of the very small art and poetry press since 2001. In 2015 she began Least Bittern Books out of Henry County, K