In August 2015 Alan Britt was invited by the Ecuadorian House of Culture Benjamín Carrión in Quito, Ecuador as part of the first cultural exchange of poets between Ecuador and the United States. In 2013 he served as judge for the The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award. His interview at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem aired on Pacifica Radio, January 2013. He has published 15 books of poetry, his latest being Violin Smoke (Translated into Hungarian by Paul Sohar and published in Romania: 2015). He teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.
I saw the prettiest bird I’ve seen in a long time
yesterday. A brief spark of electricity igniting
dark leaves of our Norway maple. It was a
female cardinal. Tawny ones with hints of
Autumn are nice, but this one glowed golden
head to tail. & that mask! Breathtaking!
Exquisite bird! I called to her, & she listened
briefly with many things on her mind. But,
yesterday, a brief spark of electricity stirred
the silt & ignited sunken leaves in my blood.
Immune to what addicts us;
that’s the ticket.
Immune to wanting that wanting
will someday levitate our lives
above the ocean’s indigestion
of particles that attach themselves
to minutiae, to hours
that prefer to be crows sifting
universes inside atoms advertised
on the National Geographic channel.
Immune to ancestral tarpon scales--
impressive as they were--
& organs like razor wings
from Jimi’s offhanded Stratocaster.
Clocks like pandas.
Sardines flicker cable TV
in a room black as coal.
Cathedral fluffs dust off moldy robes
for sake of the afterlife.
But what about the babies?
What about moms & pops
& taxes that suck the life?
We should know all that.
Trouble is, monster runs
on fumes from our existence,
& we’re stuck in some 3rd world
& mugging barber poles
like Laurel & Hardy--
my family four times removed
if you know what’s good for you.
Blood is ink that impregnates.
So, love is thicker than blood,
quantum love. Mississippi with its shoals
& alligator logs, Mississippi with the will to survive,
Mississippi says I need to think
this through—Mississippi that enjoys
a good gypsy tango of Spanish moss
flogging the soggy shoulders of mangroves.
Orchid’s raspy tongue leeching pearl tissue,
spotted armpits, spiraling throats of infatuation
like dirty dishwater down the drain.
Orchid: Fort abandoned early on like a splinter
in the balls of the upper Northwest—get that
splinter out of my testicles or I, I pray, rocking
to & fro, to & fro, to & fro like a neon mantis
sizing up unsuspecting pumpkin & charcoal
colored moth loitering, minding its business
as I do mine.
MOURNING DOVES IN ST. CROIX
beneath my breastbone
between volcanic rocks
Behind two drooping arms
of a night-blooming cactus,
I touch an emerald crown
my salty atoms
FIRST GRINDER POEM
(Punish the monkey
and let the organ grinder go.)
So it goes as long as grinders blend
servitude with industrial souls, hereafter.
But, what if, suspend your Freudian
suspenders & grind like Rimbaud--
flash Laertes’ blade fanning the flames
of melancholy & Arthur dreaming
of carbines, grind that junta tin
grinder weaving the salt of the
banished into atoms long before
preschool was an Easter egg hunt
for one faded tortoiseshell in a
sapling before stumbling upon
a nest of cracked lavenders with
Grind like grinding is revered above
ice angels melting graves,
mother earth, mustard earth
squished between the damage done
by whispering instead
of speaking our crazy minds.
When did we abandon our minds,
& has the Great Experiment grown
deaf to the black widow logic of
an empathetic suspension bridge
that won’t scare the living shit
out of mothers & grandmothers?