What the Hand Knows
~ for Sandra Harrington
Wednesday, May 13
The open hand holds more.
It feels more of what it touches
and feels better to another’s touch.
How is the heart any different?
The hand burns much less energy
in releasing, and letting go, than
when grabbing and holding on.
How is the mind any different?
The hand that waves hello, wipes
tears, and scratches backs, knows
more than the fist will ever know.
How is the soul any different?
~ for Daniella DeLaRue
Saturday, April 25
To speak of keeping distances,
5,000 miles, plus some, mostly
over a deep ocean, would seem
sufficient to the cause of isolation.
She felt safe, mangos and papayas
grew in the backyard—bananas,
pineapple, coconuts never out
of reach. Toilet paper, plenty.
Local friends, sweet as island
fruit. The temperature, seldom
above 90º, very rarely below 80.
Hibiscus and the Pandanus Palms.
All the shrimp and crab she can eat.
Clownfish and coral, the cuckoos,
and even the occasional flying fox.
It’s life by waves of the South Pacific.
So when the orders came, behind news
of the virus, she had just hours to pack.
Hours to decide what mattered. Socks,
or mangos… blue jeans, or a papaya?
Who to say goodbye to? How many?
She’d be returning, right? What the
hell… and… whose idea was this?
Always someone in Washington.
And there you have it. It’s back
to Port Arthur, Texas. Where
it will, soon enough, be 110º
beating on the oil refineries.
So, just after liftoff, there was
little to do but cry for the peace
she’d felt in serving the Corps…
and look, for as long as she could,
out the window… and back at…
the Tongan and American flags
fluttering in the hands of friends,
as she whispered… Ofa lahi atu…
I love you so much.
All the poems on this page are copyrighted by Nathan Brown and have been published in books by Mezcalita Press, LLC.
~ for the Wall of Moms
Friday, July 24
After the many things
you’ve already had to stand
and stare down for your children,
a bunch of unmarked federal troops
in camouflage and rental vans
probably don’t scare you.
Moms can see right through
all those helmets and dark glasses
and know exactly what’s behind them.
Just a line of confused sons with guns,
whose mothers are at home wondering
what kind of trouble they’re up to now.
Sons confused by seeing you there…
some as to what their orders are…
all by testosterone and adrenaline.
Whatever it is they’re not sure of,
you appear to be considerably sure
about what it is you’re sure about.
And we are grateful. And in awe.
So lock arms ladies. We need you
now… as much as we always will.
That Is the Question
Thursday, August 20
The word “severe”
is the greater part of what
it means for us to persevere…
to go on living, for some, if not
many, may become a thing
we have to insist upon,
an act of obstination,
since we’ll need more
than a mere persistence.
The faces of frontline workers,
those behind the essential counters,
and the forces of healthcare warriors,
are dealing with degrees of endurance
that make the Tour de France or, say,
volcano surfing look like sandboxes.
To go on loving is often a decision
we have to make. But now, it’s life
asking us: So, what’s it gonna be?
For the People
~ for Senate Majority Leader McConnell
Friday, October 16
there comes a point
in the life of every senator
when the world is simply moving
too much faster, all around and past,
than your wide eyes and cadaver neck
can register anymore. You look to be
more baffled than anything else—
there are headlights everywhere…
and you seem ever caught in them.
Though reluctant… Michael Jordan
knew when it was finally time to put
the basketball down, and walk away.
Though I am not suggesting that you
do underwear commercials for Hanes.
But, it might be time for the quiet life,
somewhere in the hills outside of town.
And, if not for yourself… then…
please… do it for the world.
~ for Nicole Lurea Cortichiato, and
U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Sunday, October 25
So, I believe in gumption
forged out of impossibility,
how just the right amount,
and brand, of insanity…
and I imply, a beautiful
crazy… can vanquish
the pale and pudge that
infects political smugness.
And I believe in a woman
groping to find her way,
and policies, more than
I do a man who found
his so long ago? he can
no longer put a greased
palm on any one of them
buried in the slew of alibis
that pollute his sagging desk.
So when I pause to look over
the tops of my reading glasses,
much smaller than those huge
round ones she’s made popular,
and I imagine what could secure
a place for my daughter, here in
the country of her birth, I think,
more bartenders named Sandy
serving as her representatives
in the United States Congress.
that might do it.
~ for Charles Bukowski
Thursday, March 25
If UNESCO ever voted
to inaugurate a Poet Laureate
of the Pandemic, I would surely
be the first to heave a waving hand
and nominate you, Charles Bukowski.
Because it was you who taught me how
to sift through the madness and debris
of life’s disasters, to thoughtfully look
at each scorched and shattered piece,
and pick out which shards to keep.
You helped me understand that
ones who would risk the health
and lives of others for nothing
more than a perceived political
right, will always live among us.
Poetic justice seldom to applies
to ignorance as blissful as theirs.
You reminded me that even an old
misanthropic grumpus could love
his daughter beyond reason, cry
when a horse is wounded, sing
of a bluebird hiding in his heart.
You slapped me hard on the back
and laughed into the unrelenting
darkness during my worst years,
when most of those around me
were just quoting Romans 8:28
and saying they would pray for
the soul slipping away in me.
You knew where all this
was headed, as well as
where it wasn’t. So,
I nominate you…
pulls through or not.
~ for Susie Clevenger
Friday, December 18
If your heart is broken,
make art out of the pieces.
~ Shane Koyczan
Each piece of a shattered thing
is now a new little wholeness
on its way to being a part
of another something
the world craves.
medium of art
may just be glue.
Every uneven seam…
a stroke of our suffering…
proof of what can be rejoined…
and that perfection has never mattered.
A good long look at the Earth shows
that God doesn’t like straight lines.
The reason religion has always
disappointed him, terribly.
And, what are we…
except clods of dirt
and some bone taken
from the broken ribcage
of another’s incompleteness?