Western Voices: Alan Britt


In 2018 Alan Britt served as judge for the The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award. His poetry has appeared in Verse Daily and elsewhere. He was interviewed at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem and has published 17 books of poetry, his latest being Ode to Nothing (bilingual English/Hungarian: 2018) Crossing the Walt Whitman Bridge (bilingual English/Romanian): 2017; Violin Smoke (bilingual English/Hungarian: 2015). A graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars he now teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.


(Thank you, Dion)

You drove me home that night.

I was in no condition as I ingested
your jasmine kisses into my pores while
we reminisced the thatched roof party
two hours earlier at Riviera Beach
with tiki torches flickering to Jim
Morrison wailing “Light My Fire.”

How ironic.

You cradled my head in a jasmine
& Tanqueray perfume oozing from your
mother-of-pearl elbows, neck  & wrists.

Late blooming teenager that I was—

Still, king of South Dixie Highway,
plus queen of the gin & tonic streets—
that’s what I’ll always remember—king
& queen making the night stand still!


I don’t know why Lake Worth comes up so
often in my poems; I grew up in West Palm
Beach, Florida.

I guess fate’s morning-glory & goldfinch-speckled
eyes of opium perfume oozing from her breasts
have something to do with it.

First date beneath the spidery legs of the pier,
& that sandal orphaned for who knows how
long atop a seven foot lemon & gesso-tiled
beach wall. Typical mythology, I know, but
the best I can muster at the moment.

I don’t know why Lake Worth comes up so
often in my poems; I grew up in West Palm
Beach, Florida.


(For Jacques Britt)

The hat on my head makes me vulnerable
while looting the medicine cabinet
when out the blue comes this flea-infested
canine sublimely resistant to martyrdom
yet wise enough to lead an entire nation,
except for one measly thing, one tiny caveat.

Each night this flea-infested dog takes
up residence on my couch, drinks from
our four useless toilets and overturns
the stainless-steel kitchen garbage
pail that contains my jealousy.

Fido’s act of defiance sends the local
populace into a frenzy, causing them
to light tiki torches, load shotguns, 
and traipse through the oblivious forest.

But since I’m not about to donate my
best friend on this planet for a bunch
of illiterate, degenerate, & immoral
homo sapiens, I trade my hat for a helmet
& load my two-barreled punt instead.

You see, I don’t possess the conciliatory
nature and shrewd wisdom my sublime
companion was born with—but, hell, 
with any luck at all, we’ll both escape

the cross this time. 

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