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Chicken Feet: poems

Posted by BKS | No comments
Seasoned writer and poet Brian Kenneth Swain knows that some seeds take longer to germinate than others. After entering a new phase of life several years ago, ...

Barthelme, or Something

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Let me begin by observing that, while I have read—and on occasion even enjoyed—some of Barthelme’s work, indeed have scrutinized it with what I can only ...

The Freedom of Ignorance

Peristalsis is the heart and soul of this poem. If you know what that means, the poem conveys one thing to you, and one thing only. If you don’t know what it means, then the poem’s intent could be anything at all. A flower or a disease. A cat or exotic foreign recipe. The possibilities are endless, bounded only by your imagination.   Far be it from me to ruin that blissful freedom by revealing what the word means. Best you swallow your pride, embrace the uncertainty, and make it be whatever you want it to be. Which will mean that, in the end, we’ve really written the poem Me the words. You the ...

I Want to Kill the Ice Cream M ...

It’s that damned cloying song again, rising slowly in the distance as his boxy white truck approaches. The tune itself varies from place to place. For me – Turkey in the Straw, but only four measures, four gut-wrenching measures repeating endlessly, repeating endlessly. Like someone pounding the blunt end of a xylophone into the side of my head with a five-pound sledgehammer.   And as that satanic vehicle wends its cursed way through my neighborhood, the insipid melody waxes and wanes in tortuous doppler-shifted tones that lead relentlessly to my house, the vile cacophony building to a crescendo that makes my eyes bulge— my head throb.   It’s all I can do to feign a smile as my neighbor’s seven-year-old peers up at the ...

As God is My Witness

The grandfather clock in the corner chimed 6:30 as Buster sat deeply and comfortably ensconced in his recliner, repeatedly belching up the taste of the spaghetti with sausage and marinara sauce leftovers he had nuked for supper. He loved the sausage, though he knew well that he would still be tasting it well past bedtime. The TV was tuned to the evening news, or at least what Buster still preferred to regard in that way. It wasn’t the evening news any more, though, was it? It was the all-the-goddamned-time news. It was just that Buster had spent most of his adult life in the era of three channels, each of which aired a half hour of local news from 6:00 to 6:30, followed by national and international news from 6:30 to 7:00. And if you ...

The Fall

On the faintest of breezes the glowing white cherry blossom in my backyard garden, final flower of spring, quivers and breaks free, twirls a time or two descending on currents unseen. It is perfect only in that moment, its ephemeral fall, set free from the nurturing branch, It lights upon the grass where already the tips begin to curl and brown, soon to become the ground, the tree, then the branch, and finally, once more, next season’s ...

Overthinking

Damn it, I am going to sit down and I am going to write this poem if it kills me.   It will have subtle rhymes, vital images, and visceral rhythm. I will employ nuance and texture, and just a touch of irony in exactly the right spot. If I really put my mind to it, I may conjure a metaphor or allegory that uses big obscure words. And, for the finishing touch, a gratuitous out-of-context foreign epigraph that makes dubious sense, but looks impressive when italicized.   I’m certain I have what it takes. I only need to stop procrastinating, and make it happen.   Instead, I sit hunched over the blank page, chew my pencil to sawdust, and stare at the eraser, which stares back as if to say, go ahead, write something, I dare ...

Heaven

Heaven is beneath your mother’s feet. A friend said this to me, and though I smiled, I did not understand. It means many things, she said. Many things to many people. It means what you want it to mean. What you need it to mean. But there is beauty as well in the simple melodious words. They speak to me, paint a picture in my mind. And though I cannot describe it to you, I see it clear as morning sun. I feel it in my bones. I hear it in the breathing of the trees. As close to a genuine truth as I have encountered in this life. Perhaps as close as I will ever ...

The Horse Thief

Billy Hale was descended from a long line of miscreants and vagabonds, and when the day came at last and they sent him away for stealing horses from the farm in the same town as my own, no one was much surprised, least of all Billy. It was generally felt that his life—all thirty-two years of it—had been building to some sort of unfortunate crescendo, and the only question in the minds of those who knew him was whether or not the climax would include incarceration, death, or quite possibly both. That he ended up merely imprisoned was regarded by most as an unexpected windfall. Ours is an area of the state in which men are routinely shot for taking things that aren’t theirs to take, with the authorities in such cases more likely to ...

Moonlight

The dogs stand at the window and bark at the deer outside. Two a.m. and this is what I wake to. Every night. Since I am up now, I kneel with them at the window, look out into the garden, see the nighttime deer eating the flowers. I cannot make the dogs stop barking. They cannot make the deer stop eating. And the deer … Well, the deer eat flowers in the moonlight at two a.m., which is actually kind of beautiful in its way, except for the whole two a.m. wake-up call thing. And the fact that they’re my flowers. So I go back to bed. The dogs lie on the floor whining pitifully. The deer eat flowers in my garden by the light of the moon. And the world turns, just like ...