Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The End Is Near!

The end really is near. The end of my month as Guest Poet over at www.poets.org/forum. It was a really fun experience, and I hope the conversation continues on into February and beyond. Regardless, I'd like to thank Larina Warnock for thinking of me and affording me the opportunity to talk poetry with a new (and familiar) group of poetic hooligans.


020-Sleeping Over

Only a house. Only a dirty house
without heat and filled with smoke
from cheap cigarettes. And animals

that use the carpet as a backyard
substitute. Only one or two seizures
on good days after a lifetime not

having any. The house is no longer
a place he has to stay, but her
seizures are something new and

terrifying for the boys. And worries
the boys' father. Only months
earlier, he was the one who quit

breathing. He knows what it is
to not trust his body to do what
it should. The house he no longer

has to visit felt alive when he
did. Maybe all the smoke. Maybe
the absence of any fresh air.


Found under light--
full moon blocked by clouds--
toothbrush on asphalt.


I have been thinking about the meaning
of life again. For instance, I can't help
feeling I need to spend more time cleaning.
I have been thinking about the meaning
of my last dream. In it, I was leaning
into a mop, sweeping away wet kelp.
I have been thinking about the meaning
of love again. For instance, I can't help

motivating a bird to fly north when
that sweet bird should be headed only south.
My mouth can't stop flapping its wings and then
it motivates a bird to fly north when
the bird should reverse course, turn on a ten-
cent piece. But my heart beats across my mouth,
motivating a bird to fly north when
that sweet bird should be headed south.

023-Shouting poem

Here's a poem found by me;
I found it stuck inside a tree.

The poem was scared and crying out,
so I whispered, "Please, do not shout."

"But shouting is what I do," it said
as it threw words and lines at my head.

"Well then, I guess," I said, "We'll see
if we can shout you out of this tree."


Three beds and a cabinet
for storing luggage and
utensils. Spoon me out
of this hot soup, this
messy basement. Gutter
the television into my
garden. I'll pay for cable
if it comes with Internet,
forget about the sidewalk.


not every person is an inverted
exclammation point, but if enough
men plug into so many women,
the punctuation won't matter as much
as the sentence--one swift noun
verbing away its entire meaning

026-Distracted Drivers

Cars covered in ice and rock salt,
February blew in early this year.

One cross after another along the road
side as if they are cautionary billboards

exclaiming, "Watch out! Watch out!"
He thinks he's dying the death

of a thousand cuts. A cemetery
covered in January snow. Headstones

cracked and crooked; others rigid
with polish. He wants to stop and look

for his name, but he must keep
moving. His life depends on it.


Wow! That last poem was composed at 11:59 p.m., which means I had less than 60 seconds ticking on the clock when it was finished. How am I possibly going to make it through 11 more months?!?


I'm half-way through my January week in Ohio to visit Ben and Jonah. Beginning with this trip, my brother David (and my sister-in-law Laura) has been letting me stay at his place over my father's house (which is referenced in the "Sleeping Over" poem above and juxtaposed with my ex-wife's sudden seizure problem). I can't tell you how over-joyed I am at getting to stay in a clean house without smoke and with a functional heater and toilet. For the past year or so, it felt like every single time I returned to Ohio from Georgia that dad's house slipped a little further into some kind of evil. Enthusiastic thanks go out to David and Laura!!!!!!!


Finally, I've assembled THE POETRY COLLECTION. It runs a little over 50 pages, and I'm very happy with how it reads and flows. And I've already submitted it to a couple destinations! I will continue to shop it around until it finds a home, but now I feel liberated to start building from scratch. I'm a never ending warehouse of ideas, but one project I've been considering is constructing an 808-line poem comprised of triolets that is autobiographical and makes leaps. But we'll see. Just glad to have THE POETRY COLLECTION together.


Want to follow me on Twitter? Of course you do! Just find me @robertleebrewer!


Things I've been blogging:

* Interview With Poet Helen Losse
* Writers Should Model Themselves After IKEA


Want to publish your poetry? Click here to check out an OnDemand Webinar hosted by yours truly!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Coke Zero, IKEA, Poetry Publishing & 7 More Poems

I'm doing all right on my resolutions so far. I've been on a successful diet, losing more than 10 pounds so far this month, and I have written a poem each day of 2010. Here's the latest batch:

013-Not Writing

He punches a hole in the wall,
which sets off an alarm. He
can't stand the beep and finds
the alarm box. When he enters
a code to disarm, the beeping
grows louder. He wishes he
never punched a hole; but now,
he unscrews the box from the wall
and pulls all the wires out. He
puts the box back on the wall
before fixing the hole he made
with his fist. He lays on his
bed (hands behind his head)
and thinks tomorrow maybe.

014-The last time

we stood beneath this street light & kissed each other
we talked the pigeons right out of our lungs
until the moon shielded itself with a halo
the sun didn't return until the morning
of course by then we were both gone

015-Dear Diary

The sun was out today,
so I was too. I found
a park and ate some soup.

I heard the children laugh
as they chased each other
around slides and swingsets.

Perhaps, I've been too hard
on myself after all.
Tonight, I will relax.


Faced with a hill, I drew a line
in the sky and said, "Fly
me to the next world, the one
where everyone sees the wolves
circling them in the forest."
Maybe I should have called
first or at least announced
my presence; maybe I could
have assembled my life
in another order, but that
would've made sense, and I
never was one for proofs.

017-Sunday morning

I puddle in the terrifying light
your smile shines on me. I place
orange cones around my heart
and erect MEN AT WORK signs.
In this big country, there is only
one sidewalk that I want
to travel: It leads me to you.

018-At your own risk

I found a crack in the floor
& slid my fingers along the path
of it before letting the jagged
trail swallow me whole. My

few white hairs changed blue
& signaled the shower rings
to open & close their curtains.
The bath mat covered me &

soon, I bathed in darkness.

019-Choosing friends

I've grown suspicious of beautiful women,
especially if they wear bikinis or expose
too much cleavage. I imagine these hussies
are actually men who want me to purchase
or click something that will do me harm.

I avoid people who take pictures with their
pets or use pictures of their pets in place
of themselves. I am no animal's friend. Also,
people who are in the process of eating
or part of a group photo or who insert

an inanimate object or graphic or something
not human--all such people I skip over.
I've found I like people with simple head-
shots and who hold books or microphones.
I friend people who send me messages

and who seem as if they might actually
be real, which is odd, since I'll never meet
most of my "friends," but still, there's that
feeling of maybe someday. And besides, I
think, I found my beautiful wife on MySpace.


I really did meet my wife (Tammy Foster Brewer) on MySpace. And she really is beautiful. And she really is my best friend, which I didn't mention in the poem, but I thought I'd go ahead and share anyway. In fact, eventually, I'll probably make a post that outlines some of the high points of our wonderful love story.


I had a great 3-day weekend with my beautiful wife and Baby Will. On Friday night, we watched a bunch of movies. On Saturday, we made it out to Barnes & Noble and the dollar store and other places of interest. On Sunday, we went to IKEA and the West Egg and Whole Foods and Kroger. On Monday, Tammy had to work, so Will and I traveled into the ATL to have lunch with her at Subway.


Observation #1: IKEA was designed by a genius.


Observation #2: Coke Zero is like the greatest drink in the world for a Coca-Cola junkie who is trying to diet.


Parting shot: I've got a little more than a week left as guest poet over at the Poets.org forum. I'll be answering questions about poetry publishing tomorrow from 1-2 p.m. (Atlanta, Georgia, time). So, feel free to post a question tomorrow or any time between now and January 31.

By the way, if you're interested in publishing your poetry, you should totally check out the 2010 Poet's Market, edited by moi.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Poem-A-Day 2010: Eight through twelve

Almost two weeks into 2010, and I've already had one of those days in which I finished my poem like 10 or 15 minutes before midnight (after dozing off with Baby Will in the recliner). So, I've decided I really need to try and write at least something each morning and then expand or write something else later in the day.

Here's days eight through twelve:


just shake me like a baby
or a hungry kisser
who has not had enough
practice and is
nervous as all dominoes

falling one into the next
and the next and
why did you come here
anyway if you
had no idea why you came

because can't you see I
am so hard falling
in love like nothing you
could understand or
ever know without falling too


Once a joke,
always a joke.

In the moonlight, I'm the one
who always ends up
getting his face slapped.

Maybe it's our assignment;
should be nothing serious.
We'll fly in the morning.

Leaving town, people will laugh
at us. We'll get away
in a car, end with a kiss.

010-As seen on TV

Gather 'round & let your hair down--
the cities are flickering & the suburbs are consuming:
We need a plan.

I have a plan,
but no one wants to listen to me.

I've contacted important people:
my neighbors, my barber, my mother.

There appears to be no interest
in saving the ship.

they say,
"We're pretty much fucked."

But I am no captain filled with noble ideals
or even a passenger filled with chaos theory.

"We have to turn,"
I say,
"We're not fucked, yet."

But they shake their heads & stare at the icebergs
spreading across the horizon like little pink houses
with white picket fences & nice lawns.

"We got we asked for,"
they say,
"& now we need to pay."

011-I am the shoestring caught in your fence

Soon, you will fall down,
clutch your arm,
and--crying--look around.

Tears will make you hard
of seeing,
but you'll climb to your yard

and cry for mother.
Clutch your arm--
cry--but don't blame brother.

012-Midwest Song

Try to imagine you're listening to me
beneath the leaves clinging to the buckeye tree
in the heat of early autumn, a sort
of sad heat--sweet for its shortness,
because soon the evenings will grown longer
(even as the days shorten), and you'll long
for the sticky heat of summer dripping
off your skin as when you were stripping
clothes to jump screaming off a cliff
in the creek water below thinking if
my friends can do it, so too can I
and feel yourself fall as if you could fly.


If you want to talk poetry with me tomorrow (Wed, 1/13/10), click here to meet me at the Poets.org poetry forum between 1 and 2 p.m. Georgia time.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Poem-A-Day 2010: How to write the important poetry of the new decade

I'm excited to have finished my first week of poeming; hopefully, I can keep this up for 51 more.

Also, BIG NEWS: I just received my first acceptance of 2010! Four poems were selected for the upcoming Otoliths, which is one of my fave online journals.

007-How to write the important poetry of the new decade

Get conscious of it; get
unconscious of what you
want. Verb one noun after
another into verbs.

Then, break all your lines and
stanzas. Think about them;
don't think about what you
want next: Poems happen,

and so do you. Dive deep
into your life; share what
ever you think you can't
share--your embarrassing

evening of gas, your
failed first kiss. Never let
fear hold your tongue; even
the elderly are young

compared to Shakespeare and
Whitman. You're still alive;
celebrate! Sing your songs;
ignore every gong.


I hope everyone is having a very poetic year so far!

If you're not already, you can follow me on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Poem-A-Day 2010: Four, Five, Six

Here are days four through six in my goal to write a poem each day of 2010:

004-This monster

This monster has teeth,
so many teeth. Actually,
this is a monster with
lots of teeth. And four
eyes. Four legs. Six arms.
Spiky tail, forked tongue.
This monster has two
monster friends. An open
mouth and so many teeth.

005-& then it was cold

We didn't realize
until it settled over us
as if we were desks
waiting for dust.

Our air was conditioned
to hide us from the heat,
so we were caught
without our feather dusters.

Our days grew longer and
so did our stories; our hopes
that we would ever warm again
were swept beneath the rug

& then it was...


They found us where the river cuts mountains
in pieces before finding the ocean.

They asked us what we were doing alone,
but we were too busy to answer. We

cut birds out of branches to fly to our
allies. Their jaws clenched, our enemies asked

us why we wouldn't answer; they lit torches
and gathered around us like trees. They asked

us again and again and again, but
our mouths were granite. We cut more birds loose

before burning everything standing.


I've been getting back into the whole work groove again. Took down the Christmas tree. Lost my voice (mostly). Started eating healthier (no Dorito's, no cupcakes, no pop--otherwise known as soda or cola, no ice cream) and drinking more water. Will be talking poetry at the Academy of American Poets discussion forum later today and throughout the month of January; send a question any time at www.poets.org/forum under the Guest Poet thread that includes my name (Robert Lee Brewer). Now, to do even more stuff.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Poem-A-Day 2010: One, Two, Three

One of my 2010 goals is to write a poem each day of the year and share them here on the blog. Here are the three poems I've written for the first three days of January.

001-It belongs to somebody

Imagine a tree leaning over
a river of snow. You are
on the tree using a bucket
to scoop snow. You are
the tree, the bucket, the snow.
You are the mouth of the river
never shutting up. You
only widen and widen
and let yourself go.

There must be 50 ways to lose
a pound, but how do you keep
it lost forever? That's the trick.
I think in exit numbers;
she knows street names; and
neither one of us owns a map.
Bubble wrap. Newspaper. Full
moon. New Year. Fireworks.
So many pounds to gain.

The river jumps, volcano
smokes. You lean and lean
and bend into everything
you're not looking at. Lava
balls. Water falls. Giant
fire-breathing monster, where
were you hiding? I am not
the river or volcano; I am
not what you think I am.

You could decorate with baskets,
old bottles and clocks. Find
me the function of this figurine
made of porcelain that costs
more than a week's worth
of groceries. Tell me how
to mass produce these prints
priced above the original
paintings of some starving artist.

Behind the smoke is a bird
looking for somewhere to land.
It's been flying all winter
with tired wings flapping. I
am that bird. Through all
the pounds and rivers, snow
and smoke, I've been searching
for the right spot. Now I know
I've been searching for you.


Think: Write a poem;
write a short poem

about a mountain
mounted by children.

One wants to be king
of the mountain. He

pushes the others
and stands his ground when

the other children
try to push him back.

Like most games children
play, this one will end

in tears and one boy
claiming victory.


He wakes and wanders the house
in search of his father. He needs

his father. Empty gun. Loaded
potato. One word leads to a second

thought. She looked better on paper
folded like hands across his lap.

Empty bottle. Loaded school girl.
Wake up lonely and ready to go.


Spent New Year's Eve at my father-in-law's house. It was a great night, and we (Tammy, Ben, Jonah, Will & I) hit the road in the evening of January 1 to visit with my grandmother in Dandridge, Tennessee (a planned trip in December had to be aborted). On January 2, we had breakfast with Grandma Helen and hit the road to drop the boys off at their mother's house. Unfortunately, we learned in Southern Kentucky that their mother was having the first of what would ultimately be eight seizures that would cause her to quit breathing twice. Scary stuff. So, we kept Ben and Jonah for an extra night at my brother's house in Kettering, Ohio. This morning, we dropped off Ben and Jonah with their grandparents in Fairfield, Ohio, and Tammy, Will and I made it back down to Georgia. Apparently, everything has stabilized with my ex-wife's health, too, which is great news. Hopefully, the new medicine the doctors are giving her will end this seizure madness. What a horrible way to start 2010!