FEATURED POET: IAN BRANDPresented by ERIC GAMALINDA who says:
Ian Brand’s poems have everything I look for in poetry: a subtle adventurousness where form never overwhelms content, the pleasure of language, and a humanity—neither sentimental nor strained—that directly addresses the reader. I met him recently at Cornelia Street Café, where he and I read to a small but very supportive audience. I was shocked to learn that no publisher had grabbed his collection-in-progress yet. These are some of the best and most refreshing poems I’ve read in a long while, and I thought the best way to spread the word about Ian’s work is through Eileen Tabios’ indefatigable network of cyberpoets. So here they are. I’ve included an early poem of his, the last in this sampler, which I couldn’t get out of my head for a long time. I’m positive all these poems will have the same effect on many of you. Check them out and enjoy!
POEMS BY IAN BRAND
POEM IN SUSPICION OF KINDNESS
Take fear’s hand
and life will pass through you
like weather sifting through a tree.
Let the fog anesthetize
your bluest flower
the stubborn entanglements.
Under those branches, a blind man wields
his cane like Moses and parts the noisy sea
of lunch hour, invokes the aikido
of humankind’s desire to fuck itself for all
its sporadic charity,
spasms of kindness.
The pigeons have once again resigned
themselves to takeoff.
A man bequeaths everything to his mirror.
The billboard-self mummifies,
is face after face removed
from the only self.
Somewhere, a root thinks its way
through the soil, subsists
on the merest gossip
took us for a spin past the bulletproof bodegas
and the neon crosses fastened to the dark
to scare off the fear.
I think a gust of sighs
blew out the streetlights.
I think some busted filament in our faces
looked up to Mitch but could not shine down
at what we were just then, like when Mitch said
that he never looked down
after throwing a fellow inmate
from the prison’s tier-walk—
the man desperately trying to become a bird and failing
as any person would hoping
just once, not to be human.
CITY IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY STYLE OF FEAR
The camera is trained
on the quasi-public space
so our emptiness might be as intangibly clean
as the plaza swept
into its lens.
O Panoptical City,
the mayor’s imprisoned
imagination escaped through a hole in his gray face
to become some vast prison from without
so one obsessive thought might incarcerate
the very head it vacated
and all else caught in the owlish sweep
of the mind.
CITY INSIDE A GLASS PAPERWEIGHT
is a vast, churning
office towers shiver in their brittle skins—
from a clutch
to the touch.
Tonight a man is presenting evidence
in a rusty shopping cart
that he still exists
to anyone who will listen or not.
Inside the silver jeep with neon running boards
the punch drunk passengers bask in the falling blows
of bass and drums. Dear perusers of the night, this
poem too has tinted windows and you or I
can barely make out who’s inside.
We’re so cruelly juxtaposed
in apartments shelved along an X and Y axis,
I don’t even know my neighbor much less
the self. If we were to plot
its coordinates what shape would we be?
My self is revealed when it exits
the door en route to the deli for coffee, but
whether I like it or not a self is wired
to these words and these words speak
of a distant flickering imperfectability.
The jeep takes another trip through the
circuit board of right angles as
the man scoops up an orphaned teddy bear
and sits him down inside the cart
among the many screw-top SOS’s, the tossed-over
ballast of our responsible ruin,
and vanishes like my vicarious wish
to be known or wealthy.
Tomorrow at dusk someone else
will be working his corner of the grid, hauling
a wheelbarrow across a girder.
Far above the luminous minutiae of our traffic
he will pause to watch the ants pushing
the crumbs of light home beneath
the enormous skeleton of what he’s made,
just as I, heading home, will pause to look up out of
this skeleton, this most tinsel skeleton.
Ian Brand's poems have appeared in many periodicals, including The Manhattan Review, Third Coast, The American Literary Review, The Seattle Review, and The Ledge. He has also contributed book reviews to Another Chicago Magazine and The Manhattan Review. He holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College and lives in New York City.
Eric Gamalinda is the author of Zero Gravity (Alice James Books, 1999) and Amigo Warfare (WordTech Communications, 2007) and is working on a new collection of poems to be entitled Relic Light.