3 Poems by Michael H. Brownstein


I wake early to cloud and sky,
no new sounds,
no new melodies of memory.

the little dogs at the window
setting off their alarms of anxiety
barking at ghosts and imaginations

there is a lot to do today
and much that must get done
July heat a cancer against motion

none of this is of importance
nothing counts so early in the morning
and so I sit and write

find words lodged behind humidity
the beginning of wakefulness
day beginning with a need for more sleep



When winter’s fire breaks free from the hills
smothering our waste of land in nervous tics,
we heat our homes with whatever we have at hand
and still splinters of wind enter between bone, cut into skin.

This is how we fight, he thought, argument after argument,
one sided arguing again and again, a monologue into futility.

Then the shades of ripening mulberries sweep into view,
the shroud of thick fog slips into sky light,
large house wrens skip from branch to branch,
the wind a calming brook full of artefacts and mudpuppies.

This is how she suddenly changes and he looks her way,
a sweet water comes over her, her voice, that wind, mulberries, 
sky light, the hum of the bird, and all is as it should always be.



In the great lakes of injured bone,
a spinal tap     temperature     a reading of the pulse.
When he arrives from the water’s bottom to the light
Recovery     no pain as of yet     a stomach of animosity.
Lying in his bed, they welcome him back
warm water     salad     something soft to chew on.
He sighs. The pain tears away from its cocoon
blood work     pulse rate     temperature     blood pressure.
He refuses pain pills, calms himself, lets the wind outside in,
and when he falls asleep, feels the current of coolness,
grass carp darting to the side, pain sinks into the mud.


About the contributor

Michael H. Brownstein’s work has appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and others. His book, A Slipknot Into Somewhere Else: A Poet’s Journey To The Borderlands Of Dementia (Cholla Press 2018).

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