Poetry Section: Pleasure Poems
Ellis Peters once wrote, “Every spring is the only spring–a perpetual astonishment.” Here at Write From Wrong, we see poems the same way: each poem is a tiny universe unto itself, a microcosm of emotion and sound and splendor. We hope these poems—by Alan Britt, John Grey, & Angela Brown—will fill you with similar “perpetual astonishment” as you anxiously await spring.
(For Langston Hughes)
Your poem shattered my sensibility.
Although poems are certainly meant to rattle
our fairytale windows.
They should also boil our skeletons down to fine dust
looking for signs of intelligent life.
But your poem, friend, dissected the very fibers
of my soul
with its sultry Harlem rhythms.
Your poem kissed me
square on the mouth
then invited me up to its room above a juke joint
where through sandalwood exaltations
we sipped black wine and enjoyed feral jazz.
We talked and talked about everything beneath the sun,
then the torn and bloody quarter-moon,
until I joyously fell asleep.
Meanwhile, tonight, trapped in my solitary net of reality,
I navigate a country road, dear friend,
into a village of nervous laughter and religious disgrace,
into a metropolis littered with designer three-piece 9-millimeters,
fueled along by my own silly poems
designed to rescue us all, once again,
from the latest, bigoted, new world order.
The Lullaby Disguised as a String Quartet in C Major, Opus 59, No. 3, “Razumovsky”
I love the idea of splashing
through a late 18th Century German fountain,
especially with Beethoven scheduled to perform
right around the corner!
The anticipation is like waiting
for the next great Marlon Brando movie
that, unfortunately, never came.
But those violin strings…
each string a lexicon
of joyous melancholy!
thin slices of Boar’s Head roast beef, medium-rare,
with bass cello wagging its reptilian tail
across the halogen-blue asphalt of Alligator Alley.
Suddenly, the squawk of violins…like green parrots,
just as Velárde heard them.
I can finally put that Mexican lullaby
buzzing my brain
these past 36 years!
The Magic Poem
(After Paul McCartney)
I’m 1/16th Cherokee
which makes me
one of those primordial patches
on a folk quilt.
And the burning quilt, burning
like nature intended;
well, I never told you
how much I loved you.
For that I’ll always regret.
Perhaps if we suspend
our disbelief long enough,
You know, poems layered with fuzzy psychic impressions,
a la Wordsworth, and banal abstractions eventually
infiltrate every generation’s literary canon,
while so many poems about wonderful things
like goldfinches, leopard slugs, cuttlefish and wild vaginas
get routinely overlooked.
Perhaps the time has come, my friends, to sniff
with our noses,
not our brains!
Alan Britt’s recent books are Greatest Hits (2010), Hurricane (2010), Vegetable Love (2009), Vermilion (2006), Infinite Days (2003), Amnesia Tango (1998) and Bodies of Lightning (1995). Britt’s work also appears in the new anthologies, American Poets Against the War, Metropolitan Arts Press, Chicago/Athens/Dublin: 2009 and Vapor transatlántico (Transatlantic Steamer), a bi-lingual anthology of Latin American and North American poets, Hofstra University Press/Fondo de Cultura Económica de Mexico/Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos de Peru, 2008.
Politically speaking Alan has started the Commonsense Party, which ironically to some sounds radical. He believes the US should stop invading other countries to relieve them of their natural resources including tin, copper, bananas, diamonds and oil. He is quite fond of animals both wild and domestic and supports prosecuting animal abusers. As a member of PETA, he is disgusted by factory farming and decorative fur. Alan currently teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University and lives in Reisterstown, Maryland with his wife, daughter, two Bouviers des Flandres, one Bichon Frise, and two formally feral cats.
Why Silvia Does What She Does
How should I know where Sylvia gets
her instructions to pluck sea lavender
and wear it in her hair.
Does it make her lovelier?
You’ll have to ask the one who sent her
on this journey into spring woods,
with her shirt flaps out
and her eyes blooming green
and hands eager
for those tiny pale purple flowers
to garland her long tresses.
Is it the family insanity
passed on by the wiry grandmother
who rocks half-conscious on the porch7
Or maybe it’s her father
whose usual smokescreen is a muttered
“Just like her mother at that age.”
Her mother’s dead
but this is a family that believes.
So is it the ghosts
or the brother and sister that she never had?
Or maybe the boyfriend, yet to be,
who’ll be stirred to uncontrollable fit s of awe
by wild beauty made more wild, more beautiful
Sylvia says, “I just do whatever pops into my head,”
And that’s how we finally nailed the culprit.
“What are you drinking?” she asked
the dark bearded man on the bar-stool next to her.
But wasn’t it really the garret at the top of the tower,
and no man, but an old serving maid.
And didn’t she say, “What are you doing?”
“Harvey Wallbanger,’ replied the man. She ordered one.
And the old woman explained, “I’m spinning.”
She sipped and sipped again. Her head spun.
“Let me try,” she said to the woman.
But too hasty she was, seized the spindle and pricked her finger.
Two Harvey Wallbangers. Maybe three.
The decree, the ordination of fairies.
Her head fell on the bar. She collapsed on the garret floor.
It was once upon a time and it was every time.
At the mercy of the night and the lips of princes.
Tales of the Witness
I’ve almost convinced myself
that I am not bored..
I’ve heaped up all this evidence
on my horizon: a roiling,
hazardous sea, monster flashes
of lightning, clouds the color,
the shape of beasts, a wild,
bucking ride for the fading light.
I’m face to face with drama on
a grand scale and yet,
my heart is in my bowels,
my bead is hunkered down
Suddenly, I see a boat out there,
tossed this way, that way,
by high-handed merciless waves.
Can I imagine myself on board?
Can my mind assume the peril
of these stranger sailors
battling ferocious wind
as they struggle toward port?
I would hope the answer would be yes.
And I’ve almost convinced myself
that I am not hopeless.
John Grey is an Australian born poet and US resident since late seventies. He works as financial systems analyst. Recently published in Slant, Briar Cliff Review, and Albatross with work upcoming in Poem, Cider Press Review, and the Evansville Review.
My Favorite Poem
The world is a quilt and each patch is a nation
Bound by a thread since the days of creation
Adorned with great color and radiant splendor
Though divided by race and religion and gender
In some eyes, it is handsome, in others contorted
The patches are different, unmatched and unsorted
Incongruous in pattern, in shape and in color
Not one is much similar to any other
So some try to imagine one great design
But in truth our uniqueness is really just fine
Nations and patches of all kinds and all sorts
Customs, religions, languages, sports
This is okay if each patch has its space
And on the quilt of the world, each nation has its place
But the stitches that bind us are easily shed
By the wars that are fought and the words that are said
We must realize the appearance of no patch is inferior
And the ways of no nation can make it superior
Divided by oceans, united by a dream
The world is a quilt and our love is its seam