Alan Britt: Poetry (Western Voices 2021)

Bio: Alan Britt has been nominated for the 2021 International Janus Pannonius Prize awarded by the Hungarian Centre of PEN International for excellence in poetry from any part of the world. Previous nominated recipients include Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Charles Bernstein and Yves Bonnefoy. He was interviewed at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem. A graduate of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University he currently teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.




If a tree falls in a forest . . .

If a Methodist bell, twanging

at twilight, dazzles your

ear bones while you’re dazing,

is there really a sound?

Perfume that resurrects love affairs

40 years in the past deserves its

place in the perfume hall of fame.

If a tree falls through a vision

while dreaming once again

of your lips like spiced pears

sizzling every nook and every

godforsaken cranny

of my selective memory . . .






If you want some truth, look

to your elders.


Why elders?


Because they’ve seen things; they’ve

lived through the Riding Hood years

& survived to talk about it.


These elders, are they always wise?


No, but sometimes they are,

& that’s what we’re missing.




That’s who we are, and that’s

all there is to it.


We’re the ones with illegal .45s

tucked beneath our SUV buckets.


.45 caliber rounds prepared

to take out three livers

in one fell swoop.


Poised to disembowel

the way religion has disemboweled

insufferables for millennia.


Poised to join WWI canvas wagons

overflowing naïve men in rain

gutter helmets waving goodbye

to sentimental heroines whisking

woolen skirts above their knees.


Generation later, I stumbled into

one heroine’s stained-glass hips

and eyes like twin sapphires.


I thought I was hallucinating

beneath the cover of darkness

on my own Journey to the East.


But I was wrong.


It was those mangy wolves,

I tell you.


Salt and pepper wolves camouflaged

between snow and oblivion.


  1. Some Native American symbolism in these poems. I especially like "Elders" for its honesty and celebration.

  2. I enjoyed the read. The myth of wolves is my favorite.

  3. I especially like Selective Memory. Congratulations on your many accolades.


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