Michael H. Brownstein began his writing career in Chicago, but presently lives in Jefferson City, Missouri. He has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of Hurricane Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).
They could not bury them fast enough,
the rain thick and slippery, the mud a river,
and in the morning’s blue sky, a whip of cloud,
pink haze, great green vines hugging short trees to strangle them,
Wide-open eyes came through the silk of earth
and we could identify many we had known
before the men came, and the cruel women with them.
Much had been stolen from us in the night.
Much had been broken: doors, glass, flooring fifthly with blood,
flesh caught on splinters and doorjambs, a wetness of fear.
Stains go away in time, but the exposed faces
staring upwards, no, those faces remain with us like skin,
a deep rash itching so badly we cannot stand in ourselves.
A MEDITATION ON A SLOPE OF LAND
We were different then, we are different now–
today is not a good day to die,
the breast of rain turning to a drizzle of snow,
The width of path, the length of stone.
Come. Breathe in the colors of nightfall.
Press your toes into the dense soil.
Let your skin taste the rhythm of earth,
the equation of personality and soul.
Can you not stand still and let your fingers
hear the day go, the animal of the rock, another
ritual spinning to the ground from the palisades.
The brush fire of hornet’s grove,
the tall reeds along fox tail lane,
the singing insects, hopeful and hoping.