Wednesday, July 13, 2011



I was born the Year of the Dragon
far from the Bakongo Clan
near the Collectors of Goldenrod.
I have seen bellies drawn in nails
and I have seen bellies full of sacred things,
announcements of wealth fat at their necks 
or simple descriptions of sickness
and lost opportunity. Everyone has a mouth
tattooed over their own, the holy vessel
to their deity and still their hearts remain
as their lungs, unblemished, young,
                                        too strong.


--Napoleon at Waterloo and the Russian interior, for example, Hitler trying to take Moscow and General Howe at Manhattan

Weather our army in time of need,
clouds rolled wire, barbed and content,
until the swamp matches sky, moss and wood.
A wind from the south, December, 
snow melting, snow drifting, and still 
an edge in the cloud field gives way
to something grayer, unsteady and drunk,
and we know how weather changes, how it
will save us, how wind reverts to its nature,
how mist freezes, how fog disguises truth,
weather our savior in time of saving.

About Michael Brownstein:
Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The CafĂ© 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 nine 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), and I Was a Teacher Once and Other Philosophis (Ten Page Press, 2011).

Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago’s inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study 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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