Michael Brownstein – The Sound of Fear Late in The Midnight Hour, When You Die, Can You Still See The Moon?


We talk about everything I don’t want to talk about, and that is enough.
Quiet sings from beyond widowed walls
and earth does expose children gone to pieces.
It’s just that machine-guns really are that loud
and there really is intrinsic value to pain.
My daughter asks if blood washes vegetation,
if words can come from soil when it rains.
I’m afraid I do not know if I will ever understand the answer.


You told me graveyards are that loud
and you were right. Noise skittles over crab grass
and dandelion greens, over locust stone and devil’s claw
thick with spikes and wooden lures bloody for light.
Passageways of water flow beneath them,
and the voices flow with them gray and waterproof,
overcast and significantly silent. We are a people
of mourners. Hire us. We cry on cue.
like vultures at the edge of the Sinai frontier,
like elephants leaving their path to caress
the bones of a sister. We can scream like war planes,
rend our clothing into scars, draw tattoos of death
exactly as a battle begins. Remember it was us
who fire bombed the cafes of Jaffa
and it was us who people bombed
the villages near Jerusalem.
We are one hundred sixty pounds of manure,
blood, gravel, fog–not enough
to cover all of the newly dead, but enough
to ensure there will never be silence in the graveyard.


Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published. His latest works, Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah can be found at booksonblog35.blogspot.com. More at Camel Saloon Books on Blogs, and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missori,100F Outside and other poems (Barometric Pressures–A Kind of Hurricane Press). His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others.


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