Two Poems by Michael Brownstein

by: Michael Brownstein

There’s a lushness in these two poems by Michael Brownstein, but it is not wholly benign. Given the all the myriad ways in which we deny our undeniable place in the natural world, he asks us to both acknowledge that while “We live,” we also must question at what cost to the ecosystems that give and sustain our interconnected lives.


We played with hurricanes before—
not the kind that drinks its full of water,
but those that seek the missile of hair,
the torrents of light through the green limed leaf,
the reach of the mountain to the valley below.

We could not run on the track today.
Someone set the grass on fire, someone sprayed
pesticides and herbicides of life
across the field and no one could fathom the air.

We walked downtown instead, the eddy of clouds
gathering dust and wind, hair and more hair.
Then everything let go of itself and we ran and ran
until we could not catch each other or our breath.



Just a grasshopper poem
slathered with spit and green mucous
a desire to fly, a desire to chew,
a desire to find comfort in the heat of summer
and the harvest of greenery after spring.

Watch us play, dear ants,
watch us dance–
we know we do not live forever–
but we live.
We live.


Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100F Outside And Other Poems (Kind of Hurricane Press, 2013).He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).
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