the poetry that matters

Brook Erin Barman

Brook Erin Barman live and works in northern California. She studied fine art in college and has since been the Louise Mead Creative Writing Fellow at Syracuse University. She is currently an MA candidate in the UC Davis literature program where she studies aesthetics, poetics and the politics of both. Her work has been published in several journals, including The Red Wheelbarrow, Picayune, Smokelong Quarterly, and Gulf Coast.


There is a plane moving over the skies of New York ad nauseum.
There is a bomb frozen into the perpetual summer of flashes, which is to make the same old point: This just keeps happening.
There are wars. I am here, instead of somewhere else, but I don’t have a reason for this.
And around the first three, books are being written.
They mention specifics or avoid them and we, all of us, are deposed to standing around reading. Again, we might mention the familiarity. Or make a film to change the subject.

A confessional poem full of other people’s problems is the same as television.
An animal is only an animal if we agree to let it be worth nothing.
And some other things — this or that.           Truths mentioned.

Irradiated starlights or maybe we get naked and see what happens. Like we are all wanting to say, Let’s get naked and just see what happens. Let’s shimmer with worthlessness and television, the score of the ecstatic caroling, Fuck yeah! Cover yourselves in gold paper soaked through with white moonlight! And the shy glance exchanged. Or the shoulders of women or some other long cut, etc.

We’re like, We have to work in the morning. Our house is small and borrowed.

From the standpoint of the idea of the thing, you could say we have learned to love. From the standpoint of the body of the thing, you would only be able to apologize. From the recording, you could track the influences, but not from the original. Never from the first time.

So it makes sense that Will Oldham loves R. Kelly and we get with that. We are saying we can see the idea of it, recorded, bodiless, passed from weather system to weather system and delivered, smallish, round, perfect, into our heart-shaped palms which are opened up. And they too are borrowed.

And what is in them at the end of the story depends on how many times you’ve heard it.




The poet is saying, I Made You A Poem, Blah Blah, Good Luck Eating It.

The poet is saying, Here Is This Small Thing,

            [ unnamed, feebly communicative, like any number of herons, or
            like any number of paintings.

Its worthlessness skips outward, away from you to gift its little message of Alternative:

                                    I am reckless and naked with worthlessness.
                                    I am moving through the wood alone,       Through the water,

                                    quiet,   emergent,       the patterns glinting out of darkness

and then swallowed, reckless with the condition of my birth, the I, I, I,
the pack or herd or texture ], saying,

                                                                                                            Here, I Made You This.

The Moment Of The I, she tells me, Is Also The Moment Of Consent.
This has been written both as shame and something,
living between black covers, shiny and well received.

I’m nodding along,

this is the oddness of the singular,
something is coming and we want to think we invited it,

standing under archways of some school or cathedral, we are in a bar or wherever, leaning on bicycle frames—
                                                we make I so to erect a space for the you,
                                                like, no one in this situation needs to feel guilty.

What for what in the weird project of assembly. Or the I is like saying, Fuck You For That Other Time, When I Didn’t Say Yes, when consent was affordable but not the same as an answer. Maybe that’s what she means.                         Maybe she means,

                                                            I am moving through the wood alone.
                                                            Bring yourself to the party,
                                                            So they bring themselves to the party.
                                                            Say I, I, I, as in, Here, I made you this

But Helene, we like your version best,
Make a poem. Make a baby. Whatever.
Consent to the real I, in that, we are becoming something whose truths
are radiant with inconvenience,

                                                                        Without surplus and without the small.


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                                                                                                       September 30, 2012


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