Alan Britt (Western Voices 2022)

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.


I pissed up a totem. 

So, I missed what you told ‘em.

I pissed like a marble gargoyle over 
coy & lily pads the size of paisley 
Volkswagen busses heading
for gooey Woodstock mud reflecting
Jimi’s flames of truth.

I missed when I pissed.

But, oooooo, how does it
feel, tonight?

You shouldered me on your way
to Saturn’s powder room. 

Now I don’t know which way to turn.

How can I have feelings when my feelings
confuse up from down, 
Pluto from the event horizon?

How can I invent feelings incarcerating 
feelings I cannot feel?

How can I give what I’ve lost
before losing what I never had?

How can I?

How can I?

[Thank you, Nicomedes Suárez-Araúz,
for the birth of Amnesis.] 


Labrador coat & thick tail with King Charles
under bite, yet border collie all the way.

Obsidian girl leaping like a frog 
in Mark Twain’s satire on humanity,
& scaling our six-foot welded-wire fence,
or sailing from living room love seat 
to sofa then back again.

Arctic snow dusting bird of paradise chest 
& chin while her head scooped like a swan 
notices anything worth noticing—squirrel 
risking a split-rail that divides three backyard 
neighbors with checkerspot butterflies quivering 
infant marigolds or bumbler visiting March tulips 
like a retiree rummaging the Amish market 
for his favorite elixir of unrefined honey.

Scooped like a bolt sprung from a crossbow
Zora leaps & bounds across the yard before
landing like Baryshnikov often more softly 
than leaving the ground in the first place.


A small green grasshopper, wings
gauzed to mimic melaleuca leaves
with tan stripes lining the length

of each wing, gazes at me with eyes
that resemble two grains of sand.
He hunkers motionless on the back

of my hand while I study his oval 
face. Right hind leg missing—perhaps
why I noticed him stumbling over 

tall grass in the first place. But the 
moment I place him upon a pungent
tomato leaf, he creates a tiny avocado 

blur to a nearby cucumber vine that 
sags like dried tobacco leaves over 
the rusted rungs of its thin wire cage. 

The infinitesimal weight of this 
small green grasshopper faintly tilts 
the cucumber vine dreaming beneath 

the September sun’s bronze torso.

1 comment :

  1. Alan Britt--I don't think he even knows how to write a poem that isn't a total killer!! Kudos on all of these!


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