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Original Poetry by Andrew Brown

Poem – Third Person Omniscient

THIRD PERSON OMNISCIENT

West on Wilson Boulevard,
they walk with delight
at the possibility
of what might happen,

of the kind of night
that might unfold. Will it be
good/bad? They don’t know.

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Poem – The End

THE END

This café, overcast day,
a perfect setting
to slow things down, to delay
love, to be certain

it’s not loneliness
or circumstance that brought us
together. Farewell.

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Poem – Repast

REPAST

Flick drops of water onto
the skillet. Watch it.
Do they sizzle? It’s time. Slide
onto the surface

three dewy fillets.
Let them cook. Meanwhile, open
the Manzanilla.

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Poem – Pumpkin

PUMPKIN

The misshapen orange bubbles
emerge from bent vines.
I knife into them ghastly,
hollow visages,

dreadfully shrieking
at the horror of being
lit up from inside.

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Poem – Bespoke

BESPOKE

The needlework is ragged,
as if drunk fingers
stitched these edges together,
or a bold novice,

eager to assume
the role of master tailor,
sold his wares too soon.

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Poem – Caving (#2)

CAVING (#2)

The last stop beneath this rock
is cavernous, room
enough for a family
reunion, but first

each body must pass,
alone, threadlike, through the slick
and narrow crawlspace.

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Poem – Caving (#1)

CAVING (#1)

Enveloped in the absence,
eyes are overwhelmed,
unable to find a point
of focus. The ears

compensate. Listen!
The damp walls heave. The stale air
answers your questions

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Poem – Mantra

MANTRA

You have a locket.
Inside is a word or phrase,
known only to you –
a secret that, repeated,

will make, like magic,
your heart/head flip. What is it?
Don’t tell. It’s for you.

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Poem – Autonomy

AUTONOMY

Candles only burn when lit.
Otherwise, they sit
idly by, biding their time.
Wicks, like fate, are fixed.

I hope you will choose
to ignite the short fuse, not
die entombed in wax.

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Poem – Maturation

MATURATION

Hope, it turns out, is a mask
for desire, bark
that covers living fiber.
I thought them the same

when I was younger.
Now I’m free to discover
each one’s true nature.

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Poem – Saffron

SAFFRON

A pinch of saffron
between thumb and forefinger
is enough flavor
to transmute the entire,

otherwise bland, broth.
No one knows why, but some things
make some things better.

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Poem – Memory

MEMORY

I thought the cemetery
would be empty, but
in the air a weighty throng
wraps, like a thick shawl,

round my head. I thought
the deceased would be quiet.
I thought they’d be dead.

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Poem – Minnaloushe

MINNALOUSHE

Vigilant as a magnet,
the feline infers
the actions of mere mortals,
like myself, before

we know what we’ll do.
But when I pet them, they act
like they had no clue.

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Poem – Reunion

REUNION

You race into the vineyard,
up the sloping hills,
and I can’t see where you’ve gone
so I turn around.

Later, you return
to the tasting room. We kiss.
Your mouth tastes like grapes.

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Poem – Positivity

POSITIVITY

To call one a pessimist
is a lazy way
to say they can be dismissed,
as if happiness

is reserved for those
who close their eyes, plug their ears
and say ‘yes, yes, yes.’

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Poem – Four-Letter Word

FOUR-LETTER WORD

I spoke and was shushed
at a posh venue. I said
a crude word, a word
considered too obscene for

polite company.
I said out loud, I LOVE you:
A hush, then the shush.

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Poem – Brainiac

BRAINIAC

If my cerebral
cortex were liquid, it would
be a centrifuge
of sensations, a vortex

of detrimental
decisions, out of which I
hope love and words spring.

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Poem – Campfire

CAMPFIRE

Whack with sharpened axe
at fractures and cracks until
the rotten tree falls.
Install, piece by piece, each chunk

of cadaverous
fiber to pit, an heir to
the flames and the coals.

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Poem – Legacy

LEGACY

The sticky fingers
of fading generations
leave their prints embossed
on every situation.

You can’t rub them out.
If you try wiping them clean,
first they pout, then scream.

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Poem – Resignation

RESIGNATION It’s customary to say how grateful you are to have toiled here, how you’ve grown, how you’ll miss it. Fuck that. Getting less than what you give – to work, love, & life – wears you down.   About the poem I wanted to write a poem that's honest...

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Poem – Writing

WRITING

Words are like compost;
your tongue, a pitchfork. Sift, shift
the rotting speech parts.
Compose by decomposing.

Imagination,
like oxygen, salvages
nutrition from trash.

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Poem – Thunder & Lightning

THUNDER & LIGHTNING

Power out. Silence.
Yet candles deny relief
from the unanswered
question. The never-ending

argument goes on:
Am I the flickering wick
or the scented wax?

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Poem – Heroics

HEROICS

Lashed to your own masts,
like Odysseus, you see
the turmoiled sea,
out the corners of your eyes,

lunge at saw-toothed rocks,
but you remain fixated
on beguiling song.

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Poem – Insomnia

INSOMNIA

When I roll over
and you’re not there, and the clock
still hasn’t crossed over to
the next hour, I want this

lonely bed to be
a dream, so that when I wake
we’ll be together.

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Poem – At Ease

AT EASE

Sommelier of the dark sea,
pass the drink to me –
I tilt the heavy bottle,
lift its sand-skirted

bottom to the sky,
drain its delightful contents,
lick my wet lips, sigh.

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Poem – Under Water

UNDER WATER

We’re not the starfish.
We’re the oyster, surrounding
our vital being
with shell, helpless in the end

to disengage from
the spirit’s embrace. What’s next?
Fatigue < We open.

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Poem – Tiger at the Zoo

TIGER AT THE ZOO

You’re safe. Even so,
its open mouth & dreadful
imminent roar make
the heart palpitate, the flesh

bristle, but then what
befalls is no less awful:
It yawns, then sneezes.

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Poem – Flea Market

FLEA MARKET

Antique bottles crowd
the shelves. Boxes, on the floor,
hold fading photos,
complete lives in well-ordered

moments. I thumb through
joy, reluctance, promises,
loss, melancholy.

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Poem – On Writing

ON WRITING

Impatience rarely
rewards panhandlers, so pay
no mind to the self-
appointed experts who say

you’ll strike gold the first
time out. It’s fools’ gold, or worse –
turds dipped in honey.

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Poem – The Poet as Bartender

THE POET AS BARTENDER

One night, you’re pacing,
like Dante, ever deeper,
nothing you can do
but take notes on the snared souls.

Other nights, the lost
soul is yours, and your purpose
is tempting the saved.

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Poem – Remembering Bistro Europa

REMEMBERING BISTRO EUROPA

I sat on a stool
at the edge of Paradise.
On the other side,
the trees stood tall like bottles,

the mouths of rivers
flowed like tap handles, and god
and the serpent roamed.

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Poem – The Day After Fasting

THE DAY AFTER FASTING

Every bite parcels
the sum of flavors, the way
prisms separate
vibrations into colors;

the tongue arbitrates,
or else there’d be no knowing
how to judge this meal.

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Poem – Bright, Windy Day

BRIGHT, WINDY DAY

These portentous clouds
speed past. Light rises, falls in
waves. Your rapt pupils,
taken with shadows, dilate

and contract, the way
the breath of one who is seized
by passion quickens.

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Poem – Tailgate

TAILGATE

We, the people, slam
cold beers in the parking lot.
We light the charcoal.
We eat, play corn hole and hail

the glorious sun.
Then it’s time to take our seats
& howl for our teams.

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Poem – The Poet as Beachcomber

THE POET AS BEACHCOMBER

What you find, you pawn
or discard, but never hoard.
Throw out standard means
of valuation; False teeth

and keys are precious.
But the biggest thrill comes from
rounding up spare change.

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Poem – Communication

COMMUNICATION

A piece of paper
on the refrigerator,
stuck to the surface
by a magnet, a fragment

of poem on it
for the one who gets home late:
“love you, come to bed.”

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Benediction for the Rich in Spirit (#4)

BENEDICTION FOR THE RICH IN SPIRIT (#4)

Soil, fiber, dead
skin and fallen stars form dust
at the wind’s behest.
Likewise, the spirit gathers

and scatters us to
dark corners, hollow spaces,
& bright windowsills.

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Poem – More Advice for Aspiring Poets

MORE ADVICE FOR ASPIRING POETS

What you’ll give to be
a poet matters less than
what you’re willing to
take on: loneliness, certain

failure, enmity,
rejection, uncertainty.
But the world needs you.

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Poem – Advice for Aspiring Poets

ADVICE FOR ASPIRING POETS

Be ready to wreck
your credit, test your friendships,
and live a life free
from lasting satisfaction.

Get ready to say
the right thing at the wrong time,
or the opposite.

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Poem – From Sober to Drunk

FROM SOBER TO DRUNK

One too many pours!
The lover’s embrace tightens
to a straitjacket.
Kissing with tongues turns into

a marble-filled mouth.
Being flushed with excitement
becomes dizziness.

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Poem – Solar Eclipse, August 2017

SOLAR ECLIPSE, AUGUST 2017

Once a grand event,
terrifying to behold,
inexplicable
to our ancestors, except

as an act of god —
where did our interest go?
What makes us look up?

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Poem – Central Market

CENTRAL MARKET

The pungent odor
of horseradish follows you
past butchers, bakers,
and florists, past glazed donuts,

hard pretzels, and young
Mennonites tying cherry
stems in knots with tongues.

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Poem – It Takes Time, But We’ll Figure It Out

IT TAKES TIME, BUT WE’LL FIGURE IT OUT

Hello, friend/lover.
Dance with me, and please lead. Show
me how to move together
with grace, uninhibited.

Be patient. My feet,
like my words, stumble before
they find their rhythm.

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Poem – I Wonder About Everything You Contain

I WONDER ABOUT EVERYTHING YOU CONTAIN

Like pickled berries,
your eyes are sweet and sour.
Your lips are mournful
as a horse with a bridle.

Like fresh icicles,
your fingers drill through my arm,
turn my warm blood cold.

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Poem – For the Love of Who You Are

FOR THE LOVE OF WHO YOU ARE

Whatever differs
about you holds me hostage,
binds my tongue, raises
my chin, looks at me when I

would rather avoid 
scrutiny. Nobody is
unworthy of love.

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Poem – The Universality of Desire

THE UNIVERSALITY OF DESIRE

Eros used to be
godly. Now it’s shameful to
invoke the body?
Why so? The reason,

we know. Eros comes
into and through all of us.
Some people hate that.

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Poem – Anniversary Poem for T

ANNIVERSARY POEM FOR T

Not again. Not this
argument over who loves
the other one more.
It’s me, okay? I love you

more than you love me.
When will you accept this as true?
(I hope it’s never.)

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Poem – Inside the Inside of Your Body

INSIDE THE INSIDE OF YOUR BODY

Too much gin is like
dancing under a strobe light.
People watch you jerk
and lunge. But to you it’s still

uninterrupted
motion. You feel even more
fluid than normal.

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Poem – The Faces That Look Back

THE FACES THAT LOOK BACK

I don’t want to pray
the old way, desperate pleas
to faraway gods.
I don’t want to, and I can’t.

Your life is my prayer –
the responsibility
that transcends us both.

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Poem – Time Turns Water to Clouds

TIME TURNS WATER INTO CLOUDS

Your will is wild.
It creeps and seeps when it can’t
rush unimpeded.
Why are you so frustrated?

Have you tried stillness?
Like water in a well, wait
to evaporate.

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Poem – Overheard at the Library

OVERHEARD AT THE LIBRARY
If she could’ve come,
she would have, said grandmother
to a little girl
whose melancholy eyes filled
with tears but didn’t
spill over as she passed me
with books in her arms.

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Poem – Amish Quilts

AMISH QUILTS

Flaws woven into
fabric deliberately,
so not to affront
god? Thankfully, I never

need worry about
accidentally being
perfect at my craft.

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Poem – It’s Not the Drink But What It Does To You

IT’S NOT THE DRINK BUT WHAT IT DOES TO YOU

In the glass, hope is
out of reach, but then you move.
It touches lips, enters mouth,
slides past swollen tongue, and fills

parched throat. This is not
the only way, but one way,
spirits are revealed.

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Poem – The Character of Goodness

THE CHARACTER OF GOODNESS

Dogs can show you what
it means to express love free
of conditions, but
I’ve learned something equally

important: to give
a serious interest
to everything.

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Poem – Regarding the Feline

REGARDING THE FELINE

There’s nothing passive
in your statuesque stillness.
You are potential
motion condensed in agile

form, and that alone
is enough to draw
me closer to you.

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Poem – Too Vast to Understand

TOO VAST TO UNDERSTAND

These moments with you
go too fast, then suddenly
a heartbeat will take
as long as the universe

to unfold. So what?
It’s not nearly enough time
with you either way.

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Poem – A Meditation on Itches

A MEDITATION ON ITCHES

Irritated skin
where some dumb bug took a bite
without permission.

Stupidly I scratched
until the bleeding began.
The bug is long gone.

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Poem – Ode to This Instant

ODE TO THIS INSTANT

The clock on my wall
broke over three years ago.
Why should I fix it
when I already know that

it will break again?
In time, the hands will surely
fall, the numbers fade.

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Poem – In a Forest, A Long Time Ago

IN A FOREST, A LONG TIME AGO

I planted a tree
but I can’t remember where.
It bothered me, not
knowing how to find my way

back to it. I did
feel better knowing others
will rest in its shade.

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Poem – Reminder to the Wealthy

REMINDER TO THE WEALTHY

It hurts but it’s not
harmful – that’s the difference
between the aching
you get from a bellyful

of laughter versus
the sidesplitting pain they get
from slowly starving.

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Poem – Los Cabos at Night

LOS CABOS AT NIGHT

The moon glows between
mountains, and clouds so gauzy
you can sort of see
through them. Its shape shifts from smooth

to irregular.
We hold hands and watch as this
illusion plays out.

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Poem – A Trip to the Coast

A TRIP TO THE COAST

The seawater sprayed
against and into my mouth.
I savored the strange
sensation of becoming

the shore, except that
the waves did not hammer me.
They were like scissors.

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Poem – Sanlucar, Early Morning

SANLUCAR, EARLY MORNING

We walked up the hill
and passed an open doorway.
You took a picture
of the inside and only

later did we see
you had captured a housecat
peeking back at us.

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Poem – Feasting on Crabs

FEASTING ON CRABS

In communion we
gather, around these rust-orange
carcasses. My skin
has tiny cuts from picking

the meat from sharp shells.
Is there any nourishment
that doesn’t leave scars?

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