Something, something.

I’ve been thinking lots about words
that are brothers. Words like quest. Questions.

5 notes


When you wake at 5am
for work at 6am, sit on the side
of the bed with the alarm
clock going going going going
gong gone gong and say gong
‘okay’ gone gone gone gone gone.
Wait 24 hours and repeat.

Wait 24 hours and repeat.
Feel the pajamas on your knees.
Touch them. Weave them into your knuckles.
Crack them—your knuckles. But do this
every day. Harm yourself in small,
irreconcilable ways. But do this
every day. Think about how
many days that is.

Put your nose to the grindstone
until your face surrounds
the hole in itself. Sleep in
the empty bed. Even the parts
with you in them will
feel empty. 

Filed under poems poetry work working jobs job employment career adulthood childhood waking up mondays mornings grindstone days repetition alarm clock neil richard grayson

3 notes

Sky Burial

Q. You’re Such a Disciplined Writer. Were You Always That way? 

A. When I was in graduate school, I worked part-time at a local library. I ran the used bookstore in the basement. The money came in handy. There was plenty of time to study. 

I learned to know the regulars who talked about living with pain and waiting for bland meals to be delivered. 

One sweltering afternoon I read about Tibetan body breakers who dismember corpses with their hatchets and flaying knives so the vultures will have an easier time. 

I imagined my own body and the monks asking, “What did this one do?” And the answer would be, “Not much.” As the hand I could have written with flew away from the wrist.

—Ron Koertge

Filed under ron koertge poetry tibet sky burial funeral death writing why write life purpose hands poem

2 notes

Hamartia Symbolized by the Stray

who cried at their tent flap. Dakota dawn.
Frost steamed in the stubble. Crazy Horse swung
his long chalk leg over a mountain, as if
he could ride it to safety. The dog stayed
and stayed. They told each other it was love.
Let’s review their errors so far. Crazy Horse
never claimed he could save anyone, least
of all himself. The hound loved leftover
beans and hashbrowns, not them. And they loved not
each other but figures of each other set
down each freezing evening in small notebooks,
his blue and hers red, while the flashlight lashed
to the tent’s crown with twine swung above them,
a metronome slowing down the tempo.
And burrowing down into the sleeping bags
they’d zipped into a single downy pouch.
And the sprays of hard white stars which bit down
on the charred November sky so soon to
snow while the stray searched the packed earth beneath
the picnic table once more before sleep.
And chocolate shakes from General Custard.
Bright green cress torn dripping from icy streams.
That no one in the world knew where they were.
Hen-of-the-woods hissing in the skillet.
The valiant rustbucket they rode in on
and trusted they’d ride back out. All of these
and more but not, it would eventuate,
each other, an error which would soon initiate
their slow etiolation, foreshadowed here
by wet green wood that would not catch, ink blanched
in rain, and gray leaves snapping underfoot
like glass eyes. Blind Crazy Horse’s errant
arrow made a bridge and the stray lay down and
died on it. They covered it with a jacket
and told each other at least it didn’t suffer.
But the arrow groped on toward its mark.               

—Joel Brouwer

Filed under hamartia poetry poems joel brouwer legitimate dangers camping crazy horse stray dog love breakups university of alabama

3 notes

End of Summer

The cool & rattly can
of spray paint felt
human in my hands as
it spit neon green
on my high
school’s brick wall. The mural
was wide, like Buddha’s belly.
We’d even brought
a ladder, for height.
The wall told me
not to look
for answers. All answers

are platitudes. The
only urgent work is in
the question,
the questing. But
when the
cops came and
chased our
scattering gang
to the edges
of the wet night,
I still thought
I needed answers.
Hiding in the
Russian sage

bush seemed like a start
to me, until three police
cruisers hemmed me
in. Maybe it was the forty five
crouched minutes I spent
boiling there under the stars
& moon & sirens, red & white &
blue, and all the books
I hadn’t yet read, and the way
college was looming and I was afraid, but

I assessed my life
and decided yes,
there are degrees
to which one can feel
alive and yes,
this is the most alive
you’ve ever felt,
way back when
every star seemed
like a tiny fist,
and the sky was

in an uproar
as I hauled up
the ladder’s wooden
weight and ran,
slicing the
street with it,
then down through
damp backyards,
then down through
the woods and down

Filed under summer end of summer school starting school high school poetry poems vandalism college graduating police trespassing spray paint night gangs friends buddha answers questions americana america