My Brother, a Broken Violin String, in Four Parts by Michael H. Brownstein

The tension in my brother a router bit
slipping away from its collet and shaft
tormenting all of us into worry and expense
as if money is the only matter between us,
the only act of love, of caring, of speech,
friction and the noise of friction, metal
and the noise of metal, wood and the noise
of wood, empathy and the basic spread
of impious injustice, a total lack of power.

He could have been a hurricane,
but when the storm surge came,
he backed away rather than move forward.
In the tension of rain and wind,
he howls, scratches, screams
and then opens the sky to quiet,
but he cannot sleep, he cannot dream.
What if my brother could take
his hurricane and run into another?

The Atlantic is heavy with warmth,
sun, wind, hollows, thick humidity,
even the moon a lampshade of light.
My brother, my brother, he sighs,
worries, asks the same question,
retreats within the same answer,
stumbles into rusted out landscapes,
tension and rusty bits of machinery,
decisions best made by someone else.

My brother hides in plain sight
near the frontier of Israel and Palestine,
a checkpoint, soldiers with automatic weapons,
armored vehicles, more automatic weapons,
summer heat, winter heat, shade and shallow imprints,
barbed wire and rusting barbed wire, water
caught in sand, wind caught in sand, tensions
a category three soon to grow into a five,
my brother, broken bits, maybe a hurricane.



Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).


Detail of After the Hurricane by Winslow Homer.

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