Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Poem by Michael H. Brownstein

One morning you roll over and wake to a stranger,
your body splintering into hard time.
Suddenly fingers do not remember how to lift a fork,
feet need a rhythm to climb the stairs,
even hair refuses the demands of a comb.
At the hospital, they make a study in mistakes,
the hard gurney bending too much into the wrong shape,
doctors arriving to play doctor, tests made, blood drawn.
They check your ears, look long into your eyes,
move you from one room to another, tell you to go home.
Sometimes there is nothing more anyone can do.
They send you away with prescriptions for pain and swelling,
directions you can barely see, your eyes so full of fire,
the skin surrounding them sulfur yellow and rotting eggs.
So it goes. All of your life this is your body.
It did its work and brought comfort to you.
Tonight you try to walk a straight line down the hallway.
Even in bright light, shadows are instruments of pain.

Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, 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), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011) and Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah-- (Camel Saloon Press, 2012). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).  Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago’s inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators, designs websites 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.

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