Brooks Lampe


A barbaric reed
stands straight up in the field of ostriches.

Blankets like large tomes
sink listlessly
at the back of the stage.

More accordion swords spill down our throats.

My realist wife tells me
it’s probably not going to snow much,
shattering my hopes
like weak glass.

This envelope we call poetry
is not a metaphor; it is a lake
from which everything is banished.

Back Matter

The inconsiderate humongous torso
has his earring plucked
in the park on Saturday
just moments after it begins to rain.
It is 2:30
the sky goes from okay to not okay
to rain then to sun
at 3:20 I enter the pointe sublime
with a cold coffee caffeine high
and brilliant flashes of gold-white on the cafe window
cars I despise go racing by, suddenly transformed,
kicking up diamonds behind them 
like horses. I didn’t know Lorca was a surrealist 
but he would love to be here right now
and we would clink our glasses, happy
with the limits of our being.

Zagreb Pigeons 

Blow on your food, Cynthia, 
and do not make Propertius go mad.
My camera is ready for a terrifying day in Zagreb,
my hair a shock of Croatian futbol gold.
I approach the world like a battlefield—the prize is art,
which, like an unmade underwater bed
suggests a country of nymphs, a honey trap
for those stricken with the “beautiful disease.”
Come to the balcony, I will show you the ignorant mob.
It will open you, make the details of your robe
feel heavier, softer than they did before. Pigeons flutter,
elephants drink, ivy grows. The rest can be ignored. 
So come, just one second of that glance and I will know 
you are still desperate for life behind your 
look of indifference, your hourly sneers.
Upon a time I enjoyed them, but today 
I can’t let them blind me, turn me to bronze, 
or slice my throat.

Man Distilling Brandy

Krsto Hegedušić, Peče čiča rakiju (Man Distilling Brandy) 1956.
And what is it I’m trying to hold open? What is it, friend? What spectacle am I dressed for in photo negative? It is a hot day here. But it is winter—you can tell by the tree’s stiff, naked arms, the dark sleeping forest behind the field. Distilling brandy requires the presence of two cows, a hot oven, a slow-drip faucet. That’s how we do business. I’m happy with my career: note the pipe in my craw, the hand in my pocket. Midmorning, when all the machine’s parts are humming, all one needs do is watch and wait. The woman behind me, though bent, is in ecstasy. I know by the transparency of her clogs. And the sun, eclipsed by an ecstasy of its own, has turned black as toast, a modern Apollo whose power underwrites the mechanics of cooling vapors. The colors here testify to health and happiness. So you can feel okay about us. And if you want this sky’s shade of green, it hasn’t been bottled yet, is not included in our membership plan. You’ll just have to admire it, as I admire you, from this nice position, howsoever many feet away this is from the gallery of your heart. God Is Beautiful, but Not for This Reason The eyes look, each saying good morning in their raw-nerve subject matter at play. Maybe the real goal of sexual desire is precisely a portrait something to do with amplified effect, the beauty of the untouchable— mouth and hands finding exquisite melodies various movements in which our forbidden desires must live better than we are, beginnings detached from disturbing resonance. Even plants and animals bear pollution by their frames to avoid if they can the arduous path back [Note: this poem uses phrases from Beauty by Roger Scruton.]
Brooks Lampe teaches writing, literature, and philosophy, at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. He edits Uut Poetry, a site exploring surrealist writing techniques. His poems have appeared in Peculiar Mormyrid, Otoliths, SurVision, and elsewhere.
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