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Saturday, October 08, 2011

LET THE EARTH SPEAK IN TONGUES AND IF YOU LISTEN HARD ENOUGH, YOU WILL UNDERSTAND

by Michael H. Brownstein


The voices in the graveyard have been known to scream
and if you settle where the crab grass grows,
you can hear them skipping over locust burns and dandelion bones.
Water, too, needs a sorting place away from confusion
but the voices flow into it, the voices flow with it
even as we death bomb and death bomb
bone, powder, flesh, fog, burning hair--
stone and scorpion, marker and--

our edge of the Ethiopian dessert, the grand vulture waiting,
and further south, the grander elephants stepping off track
to caress the bones of a fallen sister poached for its armor.

In 2001 we rat bombed islands near Panama and killed the deer
and later people bombed villages in Afghanistan
with enough poison to cover their dead.


Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The CafĂ© Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, After Hours, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), and I was a Teacher Once and Other Philosophis (Ten Page Press, 2011). Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago’s inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments with his students, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators and the State of Illinois Title 1 Convention, and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others.