Poet, painter and woodworker who has lived and worked in San Francisco, in Brooklyn, and now in New Paltz, where he has been renovating his old house for over twenty years with no end in sight. His poems have been published in The Chronogram, Awosting Alchemy, and in the 2011 edition of the Wallkill Valley Writers' Anthology. New poems will be included in the 2014 edition of the WVW Anthology.

MATINAL, CORPORAL, LACHRYMAL: 1965

MATINAL, CORPORAL, LACHRYMAL : 1965


Women in scarves bowed in the gloom.

            Paint trickles red from the thorny crown

                        and pierced breast of the man on the cross.


The women's own breasts fall then rise

            with the circuit of wooden beads'

                        Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be––


orisons woven through a list of troubles

            felt in the back and the calloused knees––

                        a runaway daughter, a son despised,


a grandchild's leukemia,

            or the husband whose pay won't cover rent

                        drinking it away.


And world-without-end they bow their heads

            in sacred gloom, where rising stones

                        converge in arches groined above––


all that weight held aloft

            as if masons' aspired to lift the world

                        from those upon whom it sits heaviest––

                       
where walls are lined with paintings:

            arrow-bristled, flaming martyrs,

                        Jesus' hand gentle on the woman taken in adultery,

                       
the faithful, rising on rose-rimmed billows,

            angel-flanked souls freed of dark lives,

                        haloed in the ever-after.

                       
The women's voices thrum at "Let Us Pray".

            They strike their breasts at the altar boy's bell,

                        bent in the chill comfort of chant,

           
mouthing familiar phrases,

            nostrils stung by incense,

                        hands burnish down to skin-smoothed oak


the pew's varnished back

           where they lean for support in this two-legged life,

                        lacking money or love or patience or justice,

           
whatever they pray for morning and night.

            When the priest invokes transubstantiation

                        with "This is My Body", their bodies,


sore from childwork and housework,

            seek solace in the down-cast eyes above red glass candles,

                        of the Virgin, whose only son died

           
young–– for compassion, for intercession––

            she whose unflinching plaster and paint

                        witness daily with cool regard

           
re-enactment of what would turn

            any mother's eyes to glass,

                        any mother's heart to stone,

           
and seek to emulate her meek acceptance: God's will

                        to forfeit her only son

                                    on a stony hill


for an unruly and murderous race.

            They beseech her for relief

                        to compacted, calcified spines,

           
pray for the souls of dead parents, and of babies

            unbaptised in limbo, and to forgive

                        own their failures

           
to live like Jesus, the saints, and the martyrs.

            They try to frame their troubles in this life

                        as suffering paid out to amend their fallen state

           
and carve a path to heaven through ritual celebration

            of a god into man crucified.

                        After the priest proclaims,

           
"Go, you are dismissed." they respond

            without thought, "Thanks be to God"

                        and take hearts lightened by ritual

           
and submission to mystery

            back to the street, the office, the grocery store,

                        and home for which they are truly thankful

           
feeling somewhat guided if not at all sure

            that prayers that rose from their hearts' tongues

                        will clear stone arches and be heard.

 

Timothy Brennan

 

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Featured Writer - Tim Brennan

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Featured Writer

Timothy Brennan is a poet, painter and woodworker who has lived and worked in San Francisco, in Brooklyn, and now in New Paltz, where he has been renovating his old house for over twenty years with no end in sight. His poems have been published in The Chronogram, Awosting Alchemy, and in the 2011 edition of the Wallkill Valley Writers' Anthology. New poems will be included in the 2014 edition of the WVW Anthology.

CARPENTER

The carpenter's kneecaps slip in pain
twisted against the ladder's rungs.
His shoulders and back ache from years
humping lumber up ramps and stairs,
hefting sheetrock to walls and ceilings.
He's tired of the making and remaking,
his house or anyone's,
but what else can he do?
He dreams in perpendiculars
of posts rising from the earth's center,
his beams resting level and true.
He orders a world with geometry,
makes molding-lines merge at a corners' turn
and, in a house's relations of shape and proportion,
leads one's eye through the terror of chaos
to the friable, tentative edge of beauty.
His body moves through the light-filled space,
at its own pace. He frames his enclosure
without words or, sometimes, thought.



TACIT

How quickly when we sit for dinner the phone rings out
as if it's sensed the heat or the smell
of sausage and peppers hot from the pan
and signaled the sister of my tired wife
to speed-dial and add a last consideration
to their earlier discussion of Mother's prescriptions,
or finances, or hospice nurse––
or maybe as our number's spun through the cyberverse
it's just our time to just say no
to NYPIRG or RISD or the DCC–– or,
if the names of certain friends appear on the screen,
to not pick up at all, not engage troubles so severe
and insoluble for so many years,
they exhaust our end of the conversation,
and cannot be assuaged especially at dinnertime,
which is when they need us most. And so, coldly
seated before the pasta cools, we sip our wine and eat
with interruption's salt of resentment overlaying the first bite.
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Above the Cove

Timothy Brennan is a poet, painter and woodworker who has lived and worked in San Francisco, in Brooklyn, and now New Paltz, where he has been renovating his old house for over twenty years with no end in sight. Tim's abcedarian is a 26 line version.


Above the Cove

Above the cove
Battered by shifting winds,
Clouds change faces,
Divert the sun's
Evanescent
Flickering off wave-tops like the
Glass shards of smashed bottles.
Heavily-armed children,
Incandescent fish-lines
Jigged for flounder and tautaug,
Kill without remorse––
Lancing puff-ball blowfish
Mothers' egg-filled bellies––
Nascent life left to wriggle
On the pier, to dry in the sun.
Poles are sunk into shallows where
Quahauggers tie their boats, where
Razor-clams, mussels, and blue crabs flee
Seagulls in the boats' shadows.
Terra firma slides out of sight
Under clear waves the sea pulses–– a
Ventricle to earth's heart-rhythm
Where giving and feeding, water
Extracts from the drowned boy his
Yang, his years of expectation, and his en-
Zymes.
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