Alan Britt teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University and lives in Reisterstown, Maryland. His recent books are Parabola Dreams: Poems by Silvia Scheibli & Alan Britt (2013), Alone with the Terrible Universe (2011), Greatest Hits (2010), Hurricane (2010), Vegetable Love (2009), Vermilion (2006), Infinite Days (2003). Britt’s work also appears in the new anthologies, The Robin Hood Book: Poets in Support of the Robin Hood Tax (Caparison, United Kingdom, 2012), American Poets Against the War (Metropolitan Arts Press, Chicago/Athens/Dublin, 2009) and Vapor transatlántico (Transatlantic Steamer), a bi-lingual anthology of Latin American and North American poets, (Hofstra University Press/Fondo de Cultura Económica de Mexico/Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos de Peru, 2008.) He has also participated in numerous readings and interviews.
THE CORNER OF EDMONDSON AND NORTHERN PARKWAY
As the small-town circus clown said to the oil executive:
I’m joyously fucked up!
But you, how do you sleep inside your virtual skull
like an acorn frozen by February blasts?
How do you live?
You see, I don’t need bullshit rhetoric to navigate
like a ghost panther the palmettos and mythical stars
of my ancient Seminole village.
Instead I rely on baby alligators
to clean clots from my vital arteries;
otherwise, I might just as well feign amnesia
today on this MTA bench
at the corner of Edmondson and Northern Parkway.
When you believe you’ve outsmarted death,
you inherit the most trouble.
Things appear out the ordinary,
and that’s just the beginning.
Phenomenology should clarify, but daily experience
proves as elusive as krill navigating
the baleen plates of a blue whale
rustling the southern coast of Sri Lanka.
Yet, existence mimics earthly possessions, too:
immaculate stereo speakers hand-built in Nashville,
Tennessee exhaling a muscular poetry more potent
than 19th Century proselytizing composers
sentimentalizing their dimwitted youth
into a blind Nationalist frenzy.
Unless you’re a great blue whale from Newcastle,
Indiana, that is, heading straight for the Senior Special
at rush-hour, just before the 50-millimeter Iraqi round
dissects your oldest grandson’s liver into perfect fillets
of smoked salmon for a Vegas munitions tradeshow.
Ah, well, analogies don’t exist any more than
sentimental halters leading us to baptism, our daily
bucket of oats, providing us with religious shelter,
and all at the expense of the rancid truth
camouflaged in black and blue whale disguises.
NEWLY FLOWERING MYTHS
We’re intricate wheels.
Pumping blackberry houseflies
through our veins.
We remember diminutive horses
too small to indenture,
with sulfur teeth
prowling our favorite paths to water.
ourselves as souvenirs
at quasi-Medieval festivals.
We thought we recognized
the grim reaper’s robe and beard,
but, alas. . .
This is the same irony
the great Westerns
of Newman and Brando.
This is the irony
if you believe in that sort
The irony that grinds
our perfectly healthy words
into illusions, thus, sprouting
the latest bouquets
of newly flowering myths.
A LOVE POEM OF SORTS
Our heads bob like coconuts along the moonlit Gulf.
Lovers arrange coconuts
into a Polynesian marriage ritual
around a watery Saturn.
Our heads bob freely.
On pillows of faith.
know there’s danger—
they’ve absorbed six centuries of German fairytales,
they’ve digested world wars and Wall Street disasters.
Our heads fall
Minor earthquakes in the Black Sea
create minor headaches
the coconuts bob along,
to be alive.
THE OLD CAR
The old car, a Chrysler, I believe,
resembles oxidized pale blue cars
abandoned all over Cuba,
with engines large enough
to devour extended families.
The old car finally stirs
and makes a giant swath
disguised as a U-turn
around the intersection of my dream.
Where am I going?
Cold romance. . .the other way!
The musings of my over-active imagination
dragging its lethargic Siberian tiger belly
across a soapstone behind
thick Lucite walls at the Baltimore zoo.
My imagination sizes up
its designer rocks,
its kidney-shaped pool,
then falls into
a sleep so deep
you couldn’t find it
with a limp Dalí pitchfork
or a Nobel microscope
reflects the pain endured
during 12 years of public education.
This sleep is deep.
Suddenly strangers enter the old Chrysler
urging it to carry us
to places unknown.
But the old Chrysler has problems.
You see, there’s a shoe in its water pump.
Resistance placed the shoe there!
The strangers lean close and see
irrational wires like a swarm of garter snakes
weaving the Chrysler’s engine large enough
to swallow children and small dogs.
I encounter difficulty
as my bent key slashes
the ignition’s smooth brass grooves.
Plus that emotional bruise
loitering the corner of my dream,
giving this moment
its sense of urgency.
But when my bent key finally
excites the old Chrysler’s 440 cubes,
rumbling it to orgasm,
albeit a naïve conclusion, I hazard to say,
there’ll be no turning back
in this dream.