the poetry that matters

Anthony Brenton

Anthony Brenton is the author of Near Death, Maccles; Daybreak Saint City; and A Book. He has completed 2 new novels in the past year and a slew of poetry and text. He is a Father and lives in Newfoundland where he loves and writes.

on wooden throne tacked muscle and bone

dictates at a nurse practitioner on a 1970’s Underwood

‘to the panel in separate rooms   on leather sofas or hard wooded chairs
the jury having bought this trial by bookshop   lunching on money or
slight of hand, crosslegged atop fresh vacuumed carpet   scanning lexical codes
don’t recollect this text.
‘then’ continues Clm. ‘in Newfoundland bughouse eating at a pop writer 
an old sailor told me my reading-book looked bad   to the nurses   so maybe read of
            shipwrecks and the drowned, and   then i think as i felt better
-korsakoff psychosis from Lamb’s n’ Screech.
hurried terrible dramas in Navy
yowling with the ocean wind whipping over frozen and broken water, mixed punchdrunk and moonshine,   bottle tipped to uvula
to wash back phantom hair that wraps about dangling feeler   gone mad at sea   on cough-syrup, ends up in mentalhospital.  
myself by rascal chemicals contract:
coke bugs / seesaw / Sade erection / hungry cells / welfare / pocket with knife / newspaper type / diet, plus
and drink from this cup   all of you   an everlasting covenant   for it is my blood consumptive cells   humming to the Rx percussion
            “Sing the bed song, good men!         relax       and do the piss boogie.”’
hands clasped behind his back Clm. goes.
‘i  gives my squeeze,
a tall mushroom from which she takes a toothed morsel to sample it. she smiles at the pleasant taste and helps herself to gob after gob   swallow after swallow
            and the hours click by as she’s focusing two fingers and the thumb holding a pencil
scrawling out multitudes of prescriptions to get the
itchy digit folks
away from where the      breath of our smoke or puddles of spit become interesting.
we submerged in an tub with iron turkeyvulture talons
dried high-marks of scummy soap  water and hair   [mister Fungus Mouth in bliss
on the bathroom floor 
 hysterical from wet cuff duckwalk
eyes hid under funny [and at the height of two-hundredth-decade fashion] cloak hood speeding and hesitating
in his mugger’s stalk as if an anxiety shadow splits from being once glued, unglued.]
a blinding fluorescent vision in Henrilee’s ears
and she sings it to me with the drum of wet surface
hoarse whiskey voice like wet cigars,’

Mister Fungus Mouth of many sight
befriended mirror of Clm.’s intoxication.

‘he trots lightly over surface +
mixed paint that he gives over to gravity; a true miracle by


                                                                                                                    .     wide-eyed
architect of corrupted thought steps out from over the canvas,         striding
 hardwood, carpet, and the cement littered with severed electric wires tumbling over each other for control.
                                     he says, he says,  
“there is a board, hooked into pegs, over the locked doorhandle and deadbolt, with a layer
            of wood between the old hook and eye of the stormdoor.”
kind of talking to keep in practice. Then Clm. kneels and postures like a hound, starts explaining how he finds himself in the woods with this trained smellin’hog to find the perfect mushroom  scribbling in a journal    as if it     would be some revelation to a lonely wanderer
religious scrolls:
                                                                                          “regards: cl___hnds”

Henrilee, who he is well loved by, seen him emerge out her window
“Where all the passion & curiosity lay” she says “the need to learn how to tame,
            harvest & harness. find where the limits game…and digress (so as not to stretch
            to ridiculousness) to understand the mistakes and understand their use thus giving
            birth to what has not been done.” Soliloquies’ henrilee “in my room, the window is open and yawning,
            as cold air spills in like a dead body   the room’s heat sucked out
 i see Clm. falling out from two intertwined birch, made hypnotized by     the bastard
            fairies, like mister Fungus Mouth, who haunt these Newfoundland forests.
scratching loony in his              notebook for me to read.
               Os cooled Clm.s fevers
allowing him strength plus virility. month after and into Henrilee’s hungry room, Calamityhands trots, kneeling at her feet   her stomach is now: ripe with child / rotund tummy / big old swollen belly / fecundated / impregnated / fruit nursing seed / prego / bastard baker / little stuffed chicken bone / double baby.
            a true yearning for composition, and the tumult of nightmares   blooming  soon      like serenity of peeing atop seven sleepy mattresses   then, waking, steps outside to work on a cup of tea   bass wind moaning through the birch skeletal twig ‘n limb   that Calamityhands fell through   thin frames on twining roots feeding the wooden body
twig ‘n limb cross and layer   knot and noose like nervous system exposed
like fingers whitened and cold-split.’

dictates again to nurse practitioner on standard legal tolietpaper pages

‘near Henrilee,   the booted blond with jeweled bedazzlement in her eyes,
                  i smoked then   handing her my notes to study   as she drank teas
                        our backs facing
she drank to the trees
i smoked to the moss
her from steam
and fire made mine

in 38 weeks Atlantic water falls from her belly
as she is prepared to evacuate her
                    second reality
but my mind has gone for some hours, tapping Rx percussion, tells her 
“Sing the pain song, good girl!         relax      and do the birth boogie. breathe.”
   (for it’s easier to bark orders
than to carry out actions)

thus the infant is born
in my fancy absence.



the child, almond hair and reddened faced,
eyes ice blue   no teeth   mildly crinkled ears, and ageless features, we name
            as she learns to walk, dressing in tiny robe and rope gear,
sways about on her sailor legs
then starts at you with a expression of a good doctor’s calm face having wits to stop pain  
‘Ish zool’ she says ‘dweek gunk humph’
and staggers away to the sound of the cogs working city.

in the year Nias turned three we moved into our own house
on a                                    small island / god-forgotten rock to get the youngster
at ease   with isolation / desolation             

she was   at that tria recurrence of each season   well versed   and coherent  
took solemn dreams   through the revelation of J.C to St. John
realized, that reality is an inch of tobacco   sometimes   or a piece of fruit
on this                                    ‘stone out of water’ as she named it

        she looked to the sky mumbling morning noon and night
she looked to the trees in the day
with needles dropping orange brown and dead on her long hair
skeletal birch cleaving the wind so Nias sang along 
and she walked on the yellow grass    along the waterline
stood hypnotized at the accordion jig looping from our small AM speakers

concluding the song   a radioman read the news of Newfoundland, for the townies and
         the baymen,
our isolated island had a mention, yes.
             “…and during an eight-hour altercation with police, an unarmed man known as Kobt Mismer, released a hoard of gray shrews, shrieking with fear as they plunged into the cold summer ocean, so he wouldn’t be libel for animal cruelty, then surrendered himself, though proclaiming that the seventh shrew son born of the seventh shrew son was endowed with two faces, and was prophetic with squeaking lectures. After a thorough combing of the ocean floor finding it, an autopsy report was issued by reverend doctor Lindal Oath, which we will now play. ‘we have an, approximately, two year old shrew. Fur gray. Tail a light pink skin tone, mottled gray. Eyes black. Paws are unremarkable. The main head, looking right at you, shows a gaze of three eyes…demanding obedience. This ‘seer’ shrew has been apparently feeding Mr. Mismer information about the demise of ‘the race of degenerates’ claiming that he was forced to perform a ‘sexy rape’ on an islander in order to impregnate her then birth his new monsters…I am now opening the shrew…’”  

we studied the radioman’s information growl   of the grisly details of Kobt’s interrogation  and house that Mr. Mismer kept
then searched our home
looking for images (to the report’s description)   and indeed we found sealed rooms disheveled with surfaces upset “Rootin’ tootin’ paternal badass ” scrawled across our hidden wall in a rainbow of boiling rust, thus we knew Kobt’s ambidextrous            hands had been here

after, we walk the hills; Henrilee, Nias and me,   to the cells of a dozen men
a prison constructed precariously atop a sheer dropoff   where criminals   and all around toughs   stand at their bars    growling, yelping…slobbering over toilet bowls. K.M. stood at five-foot-f.-all…with atrophied legs, a stone Emperor bust massive atop          his shrunken shoulders that constantly reach for the    ground but never meet it.
i ask Henrilee in a old politicians call   ‘what should we do with this man
who befouled and took sanctuary in our home.’ she is looking at herself in a compact  mirror with a hard inspecting glare.    ‘Your gorgeous’ i says
‘i don’t feel very good-looking’
‘beauty queen’ Nias scolds
‘what should we do to him?’ Henrilee counters, mocking voice of cowboy.
   we sat and deliberated with   mister Fungus Mouth who relates to us he’s plagued by visions of
            onion-eyed, forced-upon women   teeth of the impregnator like
  bone fence        after too many winters.
what should we do to him? copying cowboy voice of henrilee.
question far away, his moldy breath crying out incantations to purify our                consciousness…he looses form with his coup of our thoughts 
as do the prisoners, when their bars stretched like rubber and seal too,
color faded like dusk   inky outlines splashing in response to movement, while i considered the question ‘what should we do to him?’ (an alphabet for the whispering of blood in my ears   not exactly song   kind of metronome)   echoed about our collective             sentient intake. after an indeterminable amount of time (all the while Kobt Mismer’s sentence counting down to release) the prisoners reformed from the colorless dementia         and black ink tarn   seen through their elastic cells as the bars again cleaved
and Nias, with a dull, though brightening halo, swaggers to the criminal
closes her icy eyes
postures her fingers
and clears the man
of his sins.


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