Monday, 29 March 2010

Layabout, by John Brehm

Do nothing and everything will be done,
that's what Mr. Lao Tzu said, who walked
around talking 2,500 years ago and

now his books practically grow on trees
they're so popular and if he were
alive today beautiful women would

rush up to him like waves lapping
at the shores of his wisdom.
That's the way it is, I guess: humbling.

But if I could just unclench my fists,
empty out my eyes, turn my mind into
a prayer flag for the wind to play with,

we could be brothers, him the older one
who's seen and not done it all and me
still unlearning, both of us slung low

in our hammocks, our hats tipped
forwards, hands folded neatly,
like bamboo huts, above our hearts


  1. John Brehm. My God.

    Step Up

    You never know unless you try,
    yes, but if you never try you'll

    never fail, and that's what
    my heart tells itself, inching

    back from the platform's edge,
    sensing someone might yank

    the water from the pool like a rug.
    The heart remembers: blissful

    moment of soaring, sky-blue rush
    of weightlessness, somersaulting

    backflip into a jackknife handstand
    in midair—and then the eyes

    seeing too late the water gone,
    the undeniable concrete.

  2. Oh he's good, John Brehm

    I'd not heard that one before, but I know, oh I know so well the moment he describes, the world laid bare, that moment when you know... the sky slows...
    and there's nothing you can do but accept your fate.

    I posted one before,

    Here's another,

    At the Poetry Reading

    by John Brehm
    I can’t keep my eyes off the poet’s
    wife’s legs—they’re so much more
    beautiful than anything he might
    be saying, though I’m no longer
    in a position really to judge,
    having stopped listening some time ago.
    He’s from the Iowa Writers Workshop
    and can therefore get along fine
    without my attention. He started in
    reading poems about his childhood—
    barns, cornsnakes, gradeschool, flowers,
    that sort of stuff—the loss of
    innocence he keeps talking about
    between poems, which I can relate to,
    especially under these circumstances.
    Now he’s on to science, a poem
    about hydrogen, I think, he’s trying
    to imagine himself turning into hydrogen.
    Maybe he’ll succeed. I’m imagining
    myself sliding up his wife’s fluid,
    rhythmic, lusciously curved, black-
    stockinged legs, imagining them arched
    around my shoulders, wrapped around my back.
    My God, why doesn’t he write poems about her!
    He will, no doubt, once she leaves him,
    leaves him for another poet, perhaps,
    the observant, uninnocent one, who knows
    a poem when it sits down in a room with him.

  3. Indeed, Mr Brehm has it. Truth is the best poetry.
    A wonderful reflection; comes now poetry month for the needy.

  4. Damn. I'm not a poet but I think I will work on that one. It needs a couple more verses. I'll let you know what I come up with. :)


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