RICHARD CRUWYS BROWN
November 27, 2010
Sorry this and sorry that
he stands out there
on the stoop
in 10 am glare
I say who else you got
out there Ricky
Rex and Harmony
Well come on in I say
He hi hos them in
Rex in the rocker
Harmony a new number
I say We got orange juice
Rex goes sarcastic Asks
at least for vodka in it
Harmony leans heavy
into Ricky on the sofa
shows me a bit of knee
Ricky’s shoes scuffed
patent leather mmmTells me
his mobiles been foreclosed
Here for work mmmAnyway
Vegas isn’t at all what
it cracked up ta
They pit stop then roll
uneven down the hill
Little Eve Asks Uncle Otis about Eternity
Well Sweet Pea you might stump me on this one
I know it starts with not looking at the ground
It’s best to tramp out into the grass at night
when there’s not a cloud and it’s real peaceful
There’s a mess of math about eternity
It’s best to lie out your back Face
right into the darkness and then wait
When you see the Milky Way you need to know
you haven’t even scratched the surface
It’s like you and all those stars almost touch
Take a deep breath mmdon’t think too much
Thinking messes up the whole business since
not a soul has got it figured out mmYou just lie there
open mmwith the night air against your cheek
What Does Wisdom Mean Asks Little Eve
Wisdom mmRicky says mmWell
I figger you heard that word during
Bible School last summer
It’s something to do with getting old
Folks would go out to Aunt Mildred
if they had a wisdom problem
That was when your Mama was a girl
Mildred would have tea and fresh cake
for anyone who came to talk
Theyd sit in her parlor formal like
Sit there in the cool
Sip tea in that big quiet
room of hers
And what she said no one ever told
It’s all about pork bellies he writes
He’s headed south for Iowa
Tho not one for getting
his hands dirty hes fired up on pigs
corn fed and easy to care for
I wouldnt swear that hes ever touched
a sow but Ricky figures it time
to consolidate his resources
Hes had occupation councilin
Eggs into the basket follow your dream
Is it in our nature to wander?
Were we not evolved to follow shores,
cross beast-ridden plains
through brush and mud,
stare into the star driven night?
We are the roving race,
upright these four million years.
Now, along a road behind taillights
into where we have not yet arrived,
we pass a foreclosed mall,
vagrant camp on the edge of town,
a motel with flashing vacancy sign.
And when those red lights drift
off the road, it is our destiny
to go it alone, daring
ourselves with nothing
more than the center line
assuring us we’re on track
and headed out,
until we squint at headlights
approaching straight into our eyes,.
High beams bounce as they pass.
We wonder why on earth they’re going
where we’ve been, not knowing
what they have in store.
Oh, the old soul sings, deep slow river,
crossing over, crossing Jordan River.
Beware of the jealous naiad. mmHer song
will pull you to madness, to death in the river.
Past the alley at midnight, hairs on my neck
bristle as I hum mmmOld Man River.
Belching steamer tugs us to the heart
of our darkness, to Kurtz and the roiling river.
Asopus shouts through the torrent, “Shores
shrink, and glaciers rush into swollen rivers!”
A voice from the next room where no one’s living,
blood pumps through me like a frantic river.
Mount Arenal rumbles, hell bent each night
to ruminate its innards down its lava river.
Listen my boy and learn this lesson. Hear, so they
won’t send you down nor send up the river.
Electric storm besets our metal boat
lighting the jungle along Rio Negro River.
Drink Lethe’s water. You’ll forget your fears in life,
what you suffered. mmDrink deep of the river.
My uncle drowned in River Cher, she said.
I row hard away from the falls down river.
There are piranhas here, they’ll eat your bait
in a moment. Keep your toes out of the river.
I was Richard, crossing blind on the ferry,
coins on my eyes to pay toll for the river.
I was born and raised in Minneapolis, had Donald Justice as my college English teacher, and read poetry for pleasure through my career in medicine. Leaves of Grass was handy in my back pocket during my residency in Brooklyn. Later I nested in Marin, for forty years now, with my wife and the nearby families of my two children. Today, my grandsons read and write poetry.