a poetry e-zine










Poems By Emily Brogan

Any Ordinary Poem

a response to Bukowski’s “An Ordinary Poem”


don’t start off by telling me what I’ve always wanted:

it certainly has nothing to do with you. Yammering old goats belong

to the dust in farmyards, shouldn’t be ramming their way into conversations

by besottedly bleating. I see what you’re trying to do.


Plenty of people hate the Brontes.

The only arm-wrestlers I know are children. What is this,

the wide mouth of your hatred trying to relate? Catching

flies? I am not like you, will not be fooled by your prelude,

understand that wide nets bring in thousands. Now you begin

to pull them in, gently tightening the perimeter: the prime minister

and vaudevillian gather the edges together. Larry, Moe, and Curly

winch it in. Some fool in the back just nodded while you maligned his mother.

But you must tread light: return to the mediocrity of your malevolence with Melville.

Who doesn’t hate Hawthorne? All that willingness to dwell,

focus on a few grimy windowpanes instead of the smell of rain.

Or the minute unbendings of grass. Or how some things are only loved when lost.

Like Erica Jong – Fear of Flying’s only mark in my life is a slim rectangle

where dust dwells between books I’ve read. Meanwhile,

I’m supposed to be sorry some girl had the sense to shoo you off.

Shocking, isn’t it, the way women wound men like you. It’s veritably cruel.

Perhaps to persuade her passion you produced lists, proving compatibility with commonalities –

like I said, who doesn’t hate Hawthorne? Maybe you mocked yourself,

forswearing free verse, faked falling short. Tonight’s tirade tempts my contempt,

doesn’t trick me. I’m not fooled by your failure to find lines that fit infallibly –

you’re lazy. Please, pretend it’s perfectionism, pass it off as praise.

Perhaps you’re fooled. In the meantime I work my poems like diamonds,

don’t stop squeezing the sounds til' they scream like sirens,

sharpen into saw-toothed scalpels. I admit only

that I have nothing to admit: let the poem end itself.





Violet Wishes


To make a violet wish, first,

pluck a violet. You must whisper your secret,

your cloud-dream, into the violet’s ear – that part that looks like a mouth,

with the fuzzy tongue and vein-y cheeks. And

before pain can begin, throw this vessel, this

capsule of frivolous hunger, in

to the nearest water. It has to be moving water,

live water – dead water won’t do, won’t dream,

doesn’t dare wonder. Though wait – first you must kiss it

(consider it in thanks). For a flower’s life

you traded your wish. A brush of lips is surely

even-handed, surely not too much. Now this

is when you close your eyes, and make

the Raphaelite smile, the perfect, carved curve of your lips

an ideal. Out of your hands now,

your secret thoughts floating along like dandelion seeds,

white and ephemeral, on some wind that billows

gladly away from those violent violet wishes.







It doesn't matter much to me what your skin

would be like, under my palms, after

unbuttoning your flannel. Mostly

we all feel the same. Your hair is just as fine

as anyone's to stroke and my thumb,

rubbing the tense muscles of your neck,

merely likes to inflict pleasure, to make you

roll your head back like a cat. It doesn't matter much at all

if you think I'm pretty, most do. You're still

not convincing enough and I think it's time

to change the subject now, since just your breath

betrays you: caught for a moment on a wire fence that marks

the break between your haves and wants. A shudder

away from composure, it's clear what it is you want. As for me?

It doesn't divide so well, break down to words and spaces,

or the lack thereof. But I know I want to count your eyelashes

just because you said I'd never have the time, then

hopscotch across your freckles with my nails. Or tell me -

who made you, who broke you, who threw the parts out back

behind the still, the sewer, the opium dens. Who among

the wild-eyed graspers took you in, as much as

they noticed you, then didn't teach you anything? What words

rise up at night, despite the beers you swallow down,

the nightly drowning of your voice? If that's

too much then just: who hit the beauty out of you,

reformed your face? Maybe this is more personal than cock,

or come, but body was never substance enough for me.



Emily Brogan is a graduate of the University of Delaware with a B.A. in English. Currently, she writes feverishly and consumes poetry books like the plague. She dreams of writing a long, long paper on Louise Gluck’s “The Wild Iris.” She is in the preliminary stages of pursuing her MFA in Poetry.

Copyright 2011  Chantarelle's Notebook