Bill Brown 

Let's make a poem

Start with a bad memory—

     your father’s dead blue eyes 

          stare at the ceiling, 

the doctor hovers over him, 

     stethoscope probing his chest 

          like a vacuum cleaner,

but there’s nothing left 

     to retrieve except 

          spittle on his chin.

Now, a few questions—

     why write poems thirty years 

          about the same event—

Death has enough power? 

     Why not remember 

          the bonfire builder, 

the Sunday morning pancake chef, 

     the man at whose feet 

          dogs worshiped,

the shower resounding his tenor,

     I’ll fly away in the morning,

          the tenderness of his callused hands?

And your mother’s screams—

     crying out to God—

          let’s say they were operatic,

mythic—Leda, for instance, or Icarus; 

     Prometheus and his liver ailment

          for sneaking fire to man. 

Now picture a little fire grate 

     in the upstairs bedroom

          of your parent’s home,

how your father stoked it, 

     how the night before his death

          they held hands

and poked socked feet 

     through flannel pajamas,

          blue coals sparkling their eyes. 

Bill Brown is the author of five collections of poems, three chapbooks and a textbook. He has been a scholar at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, a Fellow at the VCCA, and a two time recipient of poetry fellowships from the Tennessee Arts Commission. The Tennessee Writers Alliance awarded Brown 2011 Writer of the Year. He has recent work in Crab Creek Review, Connecticut Review, Southern Humanities Review, Potomac Review, Dos Passos Review, Broad River Review, POEM,, Prairie Schooner, Asheville Poetry Review, Rattle, Tar River, Southern Poetry Review and Cloudbank. Bill's work was also featured in Issue #9 of Still: The Journal. 


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