Tuesday 5 May 2020

5 Poems by Brian Sheffield

and your teeth were floating up there

among the long winding

sutures of the sky.

a few looked up as people do

and saw themselves there


with outstretched arms

and grins that demanded

“come over here and

drown with us.”

This small turnout just south of Carmel Highlands

holds more of the Holy than I am able

to capture here. I am sitting in the bed

of my mom’s Ford something, which she selflessly

lends to me any time I come back here

and I am thinking of impulse, foolishness,

and self-exile, though in the scope of

all history, I’m sure this is pretty dumb.

All I know now is that god’s land has been long

occupied, and though the waves crash wildly

against patient rocks and the wind hisses an

eternally drumming note, this place feels

domesticated; it’s displayed like a wicked

petting zoo. A few free things make their home

in the sky, though even they depend on

the will of people to preserve something

fundamental here. Only the deep fault lines

waiting to rise and stretch their stiff bones remain

unmanageable. There are always other

powers that will refuse to bend under the

pressure of human desire--unseen, still,

a cold and unfeeling creature which will

carelessly bring to dust a whole world of

convenience that invites millions to forget:

The only ones telling the stories are us.

L O V E / / R O O M

Though I love
Though I am inclined to sin(g)
Though Pontevin’s Spirit still
                      dances ( inside of me )
Though my words hang above my
                                              head like a halo or
                                       a                                        crane
I am still confined to the three rooms I have made.

 There is a room with - out
           windows / or / lights
and I can only go in when
                   t h e d o o r o p e n s
but I can never see what’s inside.

There is a room of
            stolen gold that is
locked so nobody else might
            steal it/backfromme.

There is a room I
       tried to burn away once (
                                                           look how it only
            dulls the bright of my
                  eyes / look
   how the ashes settle
      in the spaces under my eyes

there is nothing sad about broken.

each of us is a

patchwork car job

held together with

duct-tape & bailing wire

and the world is an

invisible factory floor

chopping together

chunks of body & heart

with a ricocheting clash

like armies and storm clouds

in the dark.      memory might

be lain upon the flesh

as a thin layer of whatever paint;

and the back fender that was

never readjusted, slapped

                        as if to say

“there is nothing else to do here.”

a portion of some wall rises

letting the light of reality

ooze in like water or sludge

and another broken thing is

released, playing on a limping

tire like a skip      and finding

in the junkyard of the soul

the immortal scraps of each other.

you are not dead

you are dying, but

you are not dead

your dying is of the dead

and you’re dead are never dying

still, you are not dead

my dead asked me about the dying

the dead always seem to forget the dying

while the dying always remember the dead

until they are also dead

my dead asked me about the dying

as the dying became a part of the dead

the dead opened and the dying went in

and the dead always seem to forget the dying

i am not dead but I sometimes forget the dying

the dying come to me and remind me of the dead

for the dead exists in all the dying

and the dying is absent of all the dead

the dying sometimes imagine the dead are singing to them

the dying build vessels for the dead

but the dead never inhabit them

the dead are always forgetting the dying

still, you are not dead.


Brian Sheffield is a performance poet living and working in New York. He is Co-founder and Editor-in-chief of Mad Gleam Press, which publishes POST(blank), a French-American Word Art journal. He has been published internationally through small and independent journals and anthologies.

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