Poetry from Alan Britt


I assume much the same as you assume,
& I regret as much as you do,
but I’ll be damned before I rocket a brutal stone
above the eye socket of innocence.

I won’t do it,
& if you know what exists in the uncertain hour,
just before, just before,
just before, just before,
& after all that,
before sliding fetus-like into the ether,
just before & afterwards;
afterwards I promise
I’ll sing the blues
like Muddy says,
It’s nine below zero
with nowhere else to go.

[Italics by Muddy Waters]




Perfection impossible when the valve

allowing the release of self-destructive

exhale causes CO2s to collapse

arteries fueling the metaphoric brain.




Your selfish moment’s rusty razor cauterized my liver.

If only you could soak your contempt in my cesspool.

If only you could swim my pathetic aspirations port to port.


If only you.


If only you could see what I see,

that one volcanic catbird turd gessoing my bifocal.


If only.






Words are just that, words, but

they’re pretty much all we have.


So, saying goodbye is another way

of saying you cut me deeply;

whether you know it or not, you

took a chainsaw to my liver, & my

liver is a matriarch leading her dusty

herd to a late season watering hole

where comrades await to hawk

sparkling H2O in BPA containers.


In short, my liver remembers

every friend, every foe.


But the day the free press gets incarcerated

& words are held hostage, taxed beyond

treason, & facing symbolic extinction,

is the exact day that words—mistaking

lunacy for empathy—will be driven

to dehydration alongside that herd

of African elephants loitering

the existential watering hole.





In the 1950s they treated Communism

as a disease, a leprosy that could not

be washed away.


Took a while, but generations flourished

& humans loosened the zeitgeist

strangling sense & sensibility.


Been a tug-of-war between sense

& sensibility ever since.





Words’ vitreous shadows

squid our eyeballs at sunset.


Words like cuttlefish mottling kelp

or fistfuls of coral in the blink.


Words, said Marinetti, have always

been our vision for enlightenment.


Words dressing & undressing right

beneath our mythological noses.


In 2018 Alan Britt served as judge for the The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award. He was interviewed at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem and has published 17 books of poetry, his latest being Ode to Nothing (English/Hungarian: 2018) Crossing the Walt Whitman Bridge (English/Romanian): 2017; Violin Smoke (English/Hungarian: 2015). A graduate of the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars he now teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.


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