Tony Brewer is a poet, spoken word performer, screenwriter, and sound effects artist from Bloomington, Indiana. He is chair of the Writers Guild at Bloomington (www.writersguildbloomington.com) and Executive Director of the Spoken Word Stage at the 4th Street Arts Festival, as well a member of the poetry performance troupe Reservoir Dogwoods. He is also a regular reader and literary consultant for Books Unbound on WFHB community radio (wfhb.org/booksunbound). Tony has three books of poetry: The Great American Scapegoat (2006), Little Glove in a Big Hand (Plan B Press, 2010), and Hot Type Cold Read (Chatter House Press, 2013).
Let’s talk about the fabulous places we visit
and sound like we’ve lived in each one for a year.
I believe you – we kissed the feet of jade idols together
and gobbled down Sherpa snacks of unidentifiable
insects steeped in tea of the highest meltable snow
and waded into marketplaces wet with humanity
mistaken for locals leading with lenses
and maps no idea where and saying so.
Once in the oughts we got totally away to a beach
on a key off a cruise ship anchored 50 miles from the coast.
For hours we drank Kaliks and lay back
with our heads in the waves washing away
how to feel about faces we no longer recognized
like snorkelers following bubbles to the surface disoriented.
That’s a vacay I fight to remember.
No thumbs in frame of reference.
No meals with utensils I know how to use.
Threeks made of human fingers
and ovens of driftwood and sand.
I believe you and say I love it here
forever leaving and forever coming back.
¿Dónde está el baño?
You know what else might be a language?
Let’s see, we speak fluent tragedy,
took classes in depression all through school
but have to relearn it every few years or so,
the grammar and syntax still familiar
but it’s impossible to maintain the vocabulary.
Love is a means of communication
requiring another speaker, how else
to experience oneself in stereo?
We learn forgiveness in order to continue
conversations with those who will no longer speak.
It’s like talking to a damn brick wall.
Writing and dreaming in brick
unflinchingly terse in its singular verb.
In the club of madness are intoned certain ideograms
anyone can pick up, so similar to graffiti
it is easy to confuse baking instructions for art,
and desperation is clearly a tongue spoken
by the final boot pushing away from the lifeboat.
My grades? Clearly codes of conduct or a rhyme scheme
to the most boringest poem in existence
which was only ever written down to make it memorable.
Otherwise it soaks into told walls like blood
or something in place of blood, skyscraper, French fries.
Remember memory too is a language,
a spelling out of data into dreams.
The only time it helps to speak louder and more slowly
is when passing secrets by mouth to machines
who have their own special ways of telling
when a wittle hurt hurts dere wittle hearts.
Fightin’ words with near-identical curves and serifs,
everyone similarly armed and coined.
Supposedly what separated foreigners from locals
was a desire to touch the face of god.
Maybe touch mistranslated as punch.
But clocks touch their own faces all the time.
Fifth World Problems
Dark times, baby.
Slavery once so cheap
you paid for skin
and bones and that’s it.
Now self-indentured servant
bent at a master’s degree
turgid with poisons
’cause nobody growin’ nothin’.
The words come
spoken in job.
Nobody knows how to retire.
A lot of little stings
don’t amount to much, baby.
We can do this forever
and never abolish a thing.