– Oscar Wilde
TONY BREWER is a poet and audio artist from Bloomington, Indiana. He is executive director of the Spoken Word Stage at the 4th Street Art Festival and co-producer of the Writers Guild Spoken Word Series. His books include Hot Type Cold Read, Pity for Sale, and Fragile Batteries. Tony has been offering Poetry On Demand at coffeehouses, museums, cemeteries, churches, bars, and art and music festivals for over a decade, and he is a frequent collaborator with experimental music & field recording ensemble ORTET.
Welcome to the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey. Tony, what poems have you brought for us today?
Here are 3 poems from my new chapbook Fragile Batteries, just out from The Grind Stone.
The kind they give you
when there is no cure
Crackers & ginger ale
ice cream & lollipops
When Dad was stage 4
hey, if he wants a double
cheeseburger let him have it
No need for Asian mushroom tea
No need to try to prolong
Just comfort now
that fat & sugar give
So have some missiles
& mines designed to maim
Frag grenades & nerve gas
No need for heroics
diplomacy or handshakes
or hey, let’s let cooler
heads prevail – no winner
is possible but let’s
keep the upper hand
Say we tried by flipping
the pillow to the dry cool side
Prevent bed sores on the -ridden
but keep them there
in the only room a nurse
is allowed to turn
off the lights & leave
What I have done
to enter viability
is exit fissures
I turn into doorways
New abrupt forms
at breaking points
Record of my being
Byproduct of Divorce #87: The Laundromat
This guy is folding his socks by the front-loaders.
His tattoos read like restraining orders.
All the names are on neighborhood watch lists
and he looks like he’s been crying.
He does a poor job ignoring a sorority sister
turning her white panties pink and giggling into a phone.
Mom may have scrimped and pinched her into college
but it’s Daddy’s money dressing her now.
They tell everyone how much everything costs.
I hold the door open for myself
and my basket and soap.
Feeling the way a house feels after
the inside has been wrecked by a storm
or the water’s gone down after a flood.
I resist the urge to throw it all away
but everything I own is unclean.
A young boy sits down next to me
on the year-old-magazine-strewn bench.
His mother has him in her eye.
She is waiting for his misbehavior.
She needs him to act up.
He says he doesn’t have a daddy
as if it’s still news to him.
His life broken down into desires
and what he has or has not.
Ice cream, PlayStation, enough space to run.
He is just old enough to take
steps toward satisfaction.
Quarters, detergent, cold/cold, don’t overload,
then dry, fluff and fold, and ding!
Clean sheets as warm and soft
as cookies right from the oven.
Everybody likes sliding
in between clean sheets.
But Mama tells him not to
bother me. He’s reading, she says.
It’s OK, but she orders him
to her side anyway.
He jumps up and runs
and nearly makes it to the parking lot
with an empty laundry cart.
All he wants is to get closer
to the gull-winged hooptie parked
at the audio shop over there.
He takes his belt off so his shorts
droop like the big boys’ pants do.
His Spider-Man flip-flops slapping
his feet in time with the beat
of Ludacris vibrating windows
from across the street.
It’s a song he says Mama likes
and he knows all the words.
But Mama doesn’t smile.
Far away from her
is where he says he’s going
pushing that cart all the way.
She thinks he’ll never get there.
Not in that.
But he is already there.
Next time he won’t come back.
You've been listening to poems by Tony Brewer on the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey.