Robert Lee Brewer


The cardiologist thinks it’s the brain,
while the neurologist blames the heart;
             maybe they’re both right.

I don’t know if my brain or my heart
is trying to kill me, but thirty is
             too young to mistrust

my own body. Both the blank page and
expressions stare me down tonight. Maybe
             I’m sick; maybe not.

Maybe I can convince myself I know
the answer. For now, I just accept
             that everyday

living means living every day
without understanding why I fell down,
             quit breathing, turned blue.

Anatomy of a pencil

I didn’t answer the phone when you called
because I was considering the way
the light reflected off the ferrule as
it held the eraser to barrel, a thin
shaft of graphite waiting to wear away.


Father doesn’t need to tell him:
He knows what boys should
and should not do,
what is right and wrong.

So he stares at his clock
and watches the time not change,
says, “A lot,” when Father asks,
“How much do you love me?”

He waits for a chance to bolt
for the bathroom, afraid
the other boys will find out
and call him a faggot.

But here are their tongues
inside each other's cheeks,
his mouth on Father
telling him to swallow:

He imagines watermelons
swelling up in his stomach;
he imagines everyone

can tell.

The Robots

Don’t be afraid. We just want
your money. Please wait
for a representative
to answer the phone.

He or she will ask
for your money. Figure out
the best way to give us
exactly what we want.

Robert Lee Brewer is the editor of Writer's Market and Poet's Market and is the sole contributor to the Poetic Asides blog. His poetry has been published in several print and online publications (including previous editions of Otoliths). When Robert is not reading or writing, he's usually doing something else that ends in "ing." He can be contacted at robertleebrewer@gmail.com.

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