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Perekladin’s Nightmare

The grammar gods begrudge us only the tiniest quiver of punctuation marks to assert our meaning. To stop, or pause, to set off one word against another.   But of all the weapons in this thinnest of armories, there is just one that admits of emotion, allows the writer to enthuse, to leap up, cry out, exclaim with a loud voice.   And though this humble mark pervades the speech of everyday— the shout of each playing child, and each hovering parent— it is this same modest mark that, appearing upon the page, evokes only contempt and derision, condemns the aspiring scribe to the ranks of amateur, mocked by copy editor and reader alike.   And yet, from time to time, despite the risk of cajole and mockery, I let one sneak in, if ...

The Web

The natural world goes about its business in ways that humankind, with its boundless lack of wisdom, struggles to even label, much less comprehend.   Through the centuries we have used words like organismic, systemic, holistic, even vitalistic. All attempts to capture the very simple idea, that everything exists in an endlessly interconnected web of life. Every tree, flower, blade of grass animal, human being, and the very water and air itself, all joined in one rapturous orgy of interdependency.   So that when one strand of the web fails, we all feel the blow, suffer the injury. And yet we still cut and burn and drill and consume, as though the future is the concern of others. Which of course it is. Others who aren’t here ...

To the Son I Never Had

You first of all will doubtless want to know why you were never brought into this life.   There is no explanation I can offer, save that it never seemed the proper time.   But then too late one day I came to see the proper time would really never come.   Which is of course not fair to you at all, what with all of your unrealized potential.   I think of all the things you might have done, the man you would have soon enough become.   But for my lack of courage and resolve, you might have made this world a better place.   So though it does you now no good at all, please know I think of you from time to ...

Released Into the Moment

The moment is, at first, way way out on the horizon, scarcely discernible. But gradually doggedly it creeps toward me, until at last it’s only seconds away.   And just like that I’m in it. Whatever was waiting to happen, Whatever I was meant to say, is said.   And then, in a wink, it’s over, gone, receding without so much as a backward glance. Leaving me with nothing but doubt at the thought I might have ...

This Place I Go

It’s a hidden place. And in this place there is a spring, an opening in the fabric of normalcy from which flow all ideas and stories, poems and songs and images. They leap high into the air, and rain down over me, bathing, cleansing. And while most of these precious droplets simply fall to earth to be absorbed and reappear another day, a tiny few cling to me and I get to take them home, wring them out, and press them between my pages.   I get to make them mine.     November 29, 2019 Brian Kenneth ...

Stone Falling Through Water

Quite sudden how I came to be here. One moment basking carefree in the sun, the next sailing spinning flat and wild, hurled by the boy’s learned hand. Now with my journey near its end all that remains is the slide and the stop, the infinitesimal pause before I dip beneath the surface and ...

A Storm Called Cassandra

Tomorrow the sun burns the tiniest bit hotter. The rain falls ever so slightly harder. The wave washes an inch farther up the sand. The child has a bit less to eat.   It’s slow motion game of chicken. Except chicken is not quite the right word. Because in chicken, someone blinks. Only nature does not blink. And game is also not the right word. For games have winners and losers, and there are no winners in this.   There is only the sun and the rain, the wave and the hungry child,   and a tiny handful who cry out like Cassandra, into the unfeeling void, their warnings echoing futilely across the barren brown land.     October 5, 2019 Brian Kenneth ...

One Thousand Words

A simple enough assignment. One picture alone at the far end of a distant wing, obscure, exiled. Removed from the masters.   I’d wondered what to expect when I first saw the title, “A Girl Weeps Beside a Basket of Raspberries.” Something modern – a solid red canvas perhaps. A Rothko blur, some Twombly scribblings. But no, there she is, aglow in harsh white museum light. More literal than I had imagined, though vaguely defined, in a not-quite-impressionistic way.   The girl, young, sitting on a park bench, sixteen, seventeen, difficult to say. Her dress of taffeta white, matching bow drawing back black ringlets. After Renoir, but not as good. And there, beside her, sure enough, the basket … but of what? Raspberries if ...

Counting the Drops in a Waterf ...

So, this title has been sitting on my desk for about eight years now, and I still haven’t yet come up with a poem to go with it.   It’s just that I was really taken with the image and I thought, well I’ll write it down so I don’t forget, and I’ll use it later.   I don’t even recall what inspired the image. Probably a line from a novel, or maybe somebody else’s poem.   Because that’s how this poetry thing works. We take ideas from other peoples’ stories, poems, paintings, films, and we try best we can to make them our own. But sometimes, like in this case, we never do manage to come up with a poem worthy of the original image. Which is okay too.   Life is, after all, really just a series of images. So ...

A Most Unexpected Passing

The object of life is to make sure you die a weird death.                                                   Thomas Pynchon   No lingering bedsore festering demise for me—not a chance. Something quick, probably violent, that will make the mortician really work for his money. Something so bizarre, so outrageous that it will get me on the evening news. People will talk about it with their friends for days, shake their heads ruefully.   “Can you believe it?” they’ll say. “One minute he was there. The next minute Who even knew such a thing was possible?”   They’ll need to come up with a whole new warning label just to protect others against whatever stupid thing I did. It will be the sort of ...