Alan Britt (Western Voices 2023)

Bio: Alan Britt has published 25 books of poetry and was interviewed at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem. His latest books are Emergency Room and Guilty Pleasures. A graduate of the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University he currently teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.

(For Little Gloria)

A paint by numbers clown
with plum cheeks
& avocado mittens, as I recall,
eager to distract 
chaotic youth from 
their terrifying future—
well, this clown rang me up 
at the Belvedere Market,
today, while the assistant manager, 
scrunching his nuts & thundering 
an aluminum cart of canned 
vegetables down a two-basket 
aisle, remained oblivious to a pallet 
of dairy rotting in receiving,
plus pessimistic produce passing 
romantic secrets across political 
aisles declaring that the earth 
is stronger than human will, 
& that’s all there is to it,
(according to Little G).

A paint by numbers clown
with plum cheeks
& avocado mittens, as I recall.


With children at the cannons and blood dripping down palace walls.

This is how we welcome the new millennium, shock collars secure
and our morals terrified of doing the right thing.

There are only so many ways of saying this, but for the sake
of sanity, albeit Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus SUVs, 
let us pray for emancipated icons not superglued
to our barnacle-encrusted souls.

Let us breach like humpbacks above the foam of questions
that the zeitgeist covets as its own.

High money does not buy us time, but since time is all we really have.

But who will lead the disinherited?

Who, indeed?

Who will waddle the flames of injustice?

Who will deflect military satellites probing their conical noses
into our bedrooms, injecting paranoia into our classrooms,
and demanding that we come to the aid of our country when 
all the while the blood that flows down palace walls is the same blood 
that flows down congressional columns.

Think about it.

Congressmen and congresswomen weasel their way down 
the columns of newspapers owned by their incognito handlers.

But it’s time, don’t you think?

Time to reconsider what we really stand for?

It’s time, I say, to recognize that political bedbugs 
are nothing more than archaic astrology.
Time to suspend our disbelief long enough to dream the Trail 
of Tears before our alarm clocks shock us to antiseptic attention.

So much for the irony that sus(stains) us.


If hands are wings then take hold
& prepare for the long flight, the flight 
to shatter everything meaningful 
on this wobbly planet while discovering
that other planets have been playing
this game a whole lot longer than we
ever dreamed of playing it.

If emotions in some future hieroglyphic  
universe in some galaxy far far away—
empathetic hieroglyphs to be sure—
if those emotions hatched their existential 
eggs upon my kitchen counter this very
morning, well then, I guess I’d have 
to be a believer; I’d have to believe.

1 comment :

  1. Hi Alan, especially enjoyed the second two poems-- the use of conceptually engaged language was a real joy.


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