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Poems by Tim Brennan

A Feint Louse or

a faint sound a might be augury
I see you've got the door in
the door I see you in you installed
the door I see a slight
crack of light through really
around a crack of light always finds a way
a sound that niggles at memory the same
like the word surf or a conversation
eg. the salad bar on a saint's day after church
(affection pulling him into the room)
a fair or a fare or an affair or the
head raised again he sees her push her
hair from her face
another phone call from no one announced
fanning hot air from room to room
she sits at the desk across the room
flowers die in twilight

 

Via

her vagrant hammering on the dias on Sundays
the regimental flag forge-draped over the gate
and whether or not we're in the catalpa the cows aren't

after-hours in grasses perched on one leg
the blood draining past yes or no
any movement will be in its deliberation (delineation; linearity)
typically categorized
movement of the spine and shoulders
of long-lines tuna lost-waxed and crucified
spread out to dream on a grass set of tables
of salt and whiskers ointment-jarflies
a scam of eggs and bushspring desires

words catch in a crow's throat
feet catch at the mouth
bee
the cramped quartet's positions in a rising sea
sec
the levels of meaninglessness
in constructive desires

a fraction
a fiction

leafing through sunlight

 

Timothy Brennan is a poet, painter and woodworker who has lived and worked in San Francisco, in Brooklyn, and now in New Paltz, NY, where he has been renovating his old house for over twenty years with no end in sight. He has had poems published in The Chronogram, Awosting Alchemy, The Blue Collar Review, and in the 2011 and the 2014 edition of the Wallkill Valley Writers' Anthology. He assists in presenting Next Year's Words: A New Paltz Reading Forum. 

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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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