A handful of poems by Tony Brewer

Poetry, Punk Noir Magazine

The New New Sincerity

I checked the numbers but you weren’t there
percentages and median masquerading as average
positively 404
though 85% is a lot even with MOE @ 2-3%
then it hit me
ours is a largely textual thing
I knew I would find you
at the tips of my fingers and thumbs
which statistics show
have almost entirely replaced
my mouth lips and tongue


Cemetery is the safest place
plots sharp as hospital corners
little stone poems
or children on them
and puppies and kittens
butterflies racecars pianos

not a death’s head in sight

thank god for dates
and the ageless before the wars
statues with hats and guns
leading tombstone platoons

no one around but keepers
on their knees in daylight
blasting leaves around
fetching litter into buckets

tiny flags making tiny snaps
not even the joggers see

at cousin Jeffrey’s funeral
when we were 4
I went to find him
in the groundskeeper shed

nobody told me different

I disappear round a bend
past a shield of solitude
rising at the unclosing gates

Look out Haskell It’s Real

after Sooner or Later,
a documentary about the
child star of Medium Cool
40 years later

A part busted or missing
he definitely does not have
Plans to get it
Otherwise his motocross bike
Is ready to go ready to win

Daddy showed him how to fix
Knew it knows engines intimately
but it hasn’t run for a month
Tried to trick it out
Get a little more power
It’s his and his problem now

Daddy spends an afternoon
Carving new pistol grips
with a knife sharpened so often
it looked like a marlin spike

Laughs when the cameraman says it
though he’d never heard “marlin” before
Son Haskell leans over on the couch
“As a big ol fish bout like at”

Daddy’s eyes widen he nods
laughs laughs at everything
till Haskell says he’s dropping out

“If I’d known then what I know
now I’d have stayed in” but why
hangs like hand-me-down shed tools
no one’s touched in a generation
Not for any job needs doing

The camera catches fear
body language inarticulate
uncertainty of unwanted attention
Director hoped for redemption
an outpouring of regret
but Daddy has no words for his situation
introspection as alien as algebra

In ’68 they scooped him up
out of Uptown Chicago
put him back after the shoot
like a tails-up penny

Appalachia reabsorbed him
coal seams and trees
now cleft by machine
“It don’t matter” Haskell says
No argument there

Days move at the frame
rate of natural light
They had a nimble crew back then
navigating riot cops to get shots
Here the tripod is locked off
Waiting ages for something to happen

As bad as it is
it’s worse elsewhere
or so they hear and repeat
to themselves neighbors kin

Laugh laugh until silence
Call it defense mechanism
He laughs at that too

Secrets of Success

Hate equally.
Love discriminately.
Not everything is a nail
but anything can be used as a hammer.
Kill something and eat it.
Banish all fear from your core.
Let its refugees languish
at the border of your free zones.
Send aid reluctantly and gloat.

Stare off into space
but see something.
Say thank you and shut up.
This is the Time.
This is the Place.
You are the Person.
Learn to use a microphone.
Do the dishes. Do them.
When you come home late
to a bed made that morning
’tis as if someone cares.
Lifestyle not Life Support.
Love every award.
Forget they exist.
Whatever you are feeling
it is absolutely essential
that you feel and express it
and it is OK if everyone ignores you.
Indifference is a time-saver.
Even the Dalai Lama is neither vegan nor vegetarian.

Art is 99% frame.
Collaborate in spite of yourself.
Start everything immediately – be good later.
Be comfortable with the unknowable.
Say yes before you know.
Contrarians hate compulsively.
Develop your purpose.
Hoard but purge.
Being polite is the simplest way
to confound your detractors.
Grow where you are planted.
Dream but wake up.
Friends are a slippery slope.
Anything calls itself family what ain’t blood
still hopes you will grow up and act right.
Make it funny, not fun.
Observe Experience Read Write Revise Edit Submit
Believe everything everyone says about you.
Ignore everything everyone says about you.
Liberate yourself from guilt.
Live life as both punishment and reward
you couldn’t possibly deserve
but here goes.

A remark about the larger world

How a dozen cars slow down
for an animal in the road
but no one stops for a dead possum
Great poets live fellowship
to fellowship and escape
to isolated Greek isle stone huts
to compose about this girlfriend
died of cancer in the 80s
that lover taken by AIDS
leave behind classrooms stacked
with bumper stickers like cord wood
The interior life impossible
to mistake for microcosm
fooled thinking meanwhile
everything happens at once
Flashlights scan crime scenes
few knew to peruse
Light the size of a billion Earths
only ever covers half
In the abridged version
we carry sharpies to advance
stick figure revolution
commentary devoured by janitors
We prefer clean seats booger-free walls
Traffic the sign something happening
either toward or away
Sullen crowd means
something worthy was hit

TONY BREWER is a poet, live sound effects artist, and event producer from Bloomington, Indiana. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and has been offering Poetry On Demand at coffeehouses, museums, cemeteries, churches, bars, and art and music festivals for over a decade. More at www. tonybrewer71.blogspot.com.