The Perfect Politician (Version 2)

She forges her buttons
skin by skin--a stiff,
threatening chain.  This loud,
slithery cicada
is, like much in life,
not that she claims.
She says, “I strike to kill.”
True enough.  But the lady doth,
methinks, too much protest
for she louder shouts,
so softly we can’t hear,
“Please go away.  I fear.”
Oh, the heard is real--make no mistake.
Don’t hang about!

                                But when
m’lady’s most in earnest,
her stomach’s growl is still.
She keeps her peace completely--
enters her closet to pray.
Then when she smells heat,
often in dark,
she strikes to eat,
this lying silent
m’lady’s truth and meat.

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Editor's Note


SNR's Writers


Dissatisfied Again; or, in Abeyance

The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon.”
--R.W. Emerson

for Isabelle

Let the snowball roll toward Truth, yet never arrive, for she
is not.  And, as Goethe said, thinking is more interesting
than knowing.  Truth is that toward which the snowball grows in soft,
layered heft, but if it ever brag, I have arrived for here
she is in all. . . , the brain will stall; such hubris will freeze thought
in mid clause, turning the benighted tongue to quartz.

knew the Unknown is Intellect’s bread and beef.

is a coy mirage to be but courted, not taken to altar–
not counted and known in all her inches and ounces.  Yet
in our ignorance we strive to arrive by addition:   salvation lies
in numbers.  Or in the opposite direction–dissection, diminution:
peeling an onion layer by layer to find pure flavor, arriving
finally at center, locus pure and simple, atomless,
not even space.

                           Dissatisfied always.

                                                            For perfect taste
is not.  As with folks whose key I find, whose Truth I see,
I don’t.  There’s always another layer, never final, solid pod.

Of Cordoba and Heart

for David and Mike

Such disdain! Such brown ivory anger told
through strings and hands. Such conversation in heels and soles!
Such passion in staccato! Wonderful bodies,
each with bodice tight, stomach taut as a plank
and bound or flouncing hips, moving all now alone,
now intertwined. Each dancer stasis and flow, oak and sea;
the actors waves that move yet stay, this rite that moves yet stays
in its still tensile center, its depth of centuries.
Fingers flow in sequence on the ends of flowing,
speaking arms, brown skin glistens, bellies, hips, chests
twirl and strain under a tight second skin
to tell their jealousy and love. Skirts hefted and shaken
exclaim the rightness of hate so absolute in the drumming feet.
Muscular ankles and calves, youth and red lips,
perspiring women, men with haughty faces, back
straight and stiff as locust posts–this is Cordoba,
this is Espana, this is heart, this is Life!

Truth (Version 1)

dear heart, is not her truth.
Her truth is a pole
with which she moves the earth
to fit her taste.  Her truth
is her desire.  Her truth
she shapes to weight her estate.

For B. H. M.

“These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.”
--T. S. Eliot, “The Dry Salvages”

At this time of most mystery in every direction,
what shall I say?  After the long ago degrees with growing love
of Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, Shakespeare, Reynolds Price,
et alia, veins of our Mother Lode, till they grew close
beloved siblings living all beneath your roof; after decade
of routine committees (with sensible and lazy members, the competent
along with fools), overpopulated committees, unnecessary
committees, soporific committees, eternal committees, eternal meetings–
and colleagues with eternal muscular ids and eternal,
Olympian egos; after concomitant decades
of enjoying rare, sterling souls like Cratis rooted like oaks
in rich, sharply focused vision told in sparse, quiet words–
twenty-four carat souls whose presence refreshed you, blessed your day;
after decades of other wonderful common deities,
souls taken with good of students, colleagues, family;
after decades of helping students glimpse, and sometimes see, the complex
ambiguity–darkness offering light,
struggle toward reconciliation, humor and wit salting growth
into order more or less in our beloved Mother Lode–
and thus our Life; after decades of this ever enriching,
ever wearing sea of pupils and students, the ebb and flow
of half your life–your painful plenitude, your curse and grace at once–
the myriad youth you helped hone their feelings, thoughts, and lives
into well built rooms of words with doors strong and squared
the reader could enter to clearly consider substance, and depart enlightened.

After you departed–and didn’t depart–all this and Boone
to compose a lovely home in Greensboro rife with music, books,
and art; to cherish more closely more often your offspring Jill and Michael,
and their offspring; to follow Saint Stephen, to care for the grieving and ill;
to struggle, serve, and grow, to live and love in another place
only to be suddenly blind-sided–bludgeoned–all too soon
by Darkness, and enter at peace into Light with courage and no regrets.
A good teacher, you modeled this closing paragraph with organization,
confident confirmation of thesis and body, suggestions for future
implications--a legacy of curiosity, kindness,
                                                                         and Love.

Harry Brown, who has lived for some 25 years on a farm in the Paint Lick area, has taught creative writing and American literature since 1970 at Eastern Kentucky University, 
where he has also co-directed seminars funded by the Kentucky Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, directed the Summer Creative Writing 
Conference, and served as poetry editor for Scripsit and The Chaffin Journal.  His poem "Felt Along the Blood - A Triptych" won Kentucky Poetry Review's Blaine 
R. Hall Award; Green's Magazine awarded his poem "In Deed and Truth" the Warren Keith Wright Prize; and the Mary Anderson Center for the Arts made Brown the first 
recipient of the Mary Anderson Senior Fellowship. His new collection, Felt Along the Blood from Wind Publications and edited by Cope, features poetry from four previous 
volumes: "Paint Lick Idyll and Other Poems," "Measuring Man and Other Poems," "Ego's Eye and Other Poems," and "Everything Is Its Opposite and Other Poems," as 
well as some selected new works. The book is available in major area bookstores, and through Wind Publications (windpub.com).

Copyright 2005, Harry Brown. This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.