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Brian Brodeur

08-21-2012

Poems - Bio - Interview - Review

The Clearing

I'm thinking of Gidge Tomiolo, the Systems Operator
at the Upper Blackstone Treatment Plant
where I worked part-time the summer I turned sixteen

power-washing the tanks and helping technicians
superheat greywater into pellets
we sold to local farmers as fertilizer.

Gidge would pull up to the dock with another pallet
an assembly line of us loaded on flatbeds, our bodies
forming one concordance in the stink.

I guess a part of me must miss that work,
sweating for minimum wage, scraping nightsoil
from under my fingernails, even the afternoon

I got caught in a downpour doing rounds.
That day, I walked out past the basins,
roamed the woods surrounding the property

and trudged up the gully to watch for deer.
That was when I saw them, two nude figures:
a woman and a man in the clearing,

lying together, their skin turning bright pink.
In the haze, the man looked like-no, was Gidge
closing his eyes as he fondled the ample flesh

of the woman straddling him: ten years younger
and (do I have to say it?) not his wife.
I ducked behind a trunk, all three of us

so engrossed we didn't notice
the rumbling above us coming closer, the sky darkening
as the first few drops clicked against the leaves.

So when the clouds cracked open, the downpour
shocked me, sent me hauling-ass
through torrents down the hill, and I remembered

the utility shed I could use for shelter,
an old stone shack of granite and cement.
Shivering under the eaves, I watched the couple

stumble from the woods. Still nude, they carried
their clothes and ran straight toward me.
I tried kicking the steel door rusted shut.

Gidge panted and grinned at me, "Nice day for a stroll!"
As he laughed and smacked the woman's ass,
she dropped her clothes on the steps

and rang out her dripping hair. She looked at me
then looked at Gidge, picked up her things,
and bunched her sopping blouse against her breasts.

We must've stood so close there out of fear.
I know I was scared when a north-west wind
thrashed the trees, the branches

clattering, and Gidge grabbed the woman's arm
and pulled her closer, told her she'd be warmer
between us two. He put his arm around my shoulders

and squeezed us together, winked at me, still
laughing his belly laugh, his erection
undeniable beside my thigh.

As the woman pressed against me in the heat,
I could feel her trembling, smell the musk
of pine needles and strawberry shampoo

rising from her hair, her skin goose-pimpling
as thunder shook the floor and rattled the panes.
All I could think to do was watch the rain.

Surging across the sky, the lightning revealed
backlit heaves of storm, the bigger gusts
peeling leaves, showing no sign of stopping.

Then it was over. The rain slowed to a piddle.
As he struggled into his pants, Gidge made some comment
that sent the woman stomping off into the woods

gathering both breasts in one hand, her clothes in the other.
We walked back to the Plant together, Gidge
and me, exchanged the odd grunt, but nothing more.

What was there to say? We both were cold, both
hoping to slip in through the loading dock
before the foreman started asking questions.
 

 

After Rukeyser

           "I lived in the first century of world wars." 

I lived in the second century of world wars. 
I woke each day and dry-swallowed my pills 
for hypertension and high cholesterol 
and turned on my devices asleep on the desk 
to check the nighttime progress of the wars. 
It was like peering underneath a bandage
at a wound that would not heal. I waited 
for myocardial dysfunction or septic shock
to put an end to them. But the wars 
only changed names, addresses, currencies. 
I thought about the periods between wars
when munitions are stockpiled in storehouses
and the civilian population can forget. 
Then an unmanned drone missed its target 
and blew up another crowded marketplace 
and I braced myself to feel the repercussions 
and felt no repercussions. I took issue 
with the Democratic Party's war-time positions 
and voted Republican then I took issue 
with the Republicans and voted Democrat.
I tied a yellow ribbon to a poplar tree. 
I drove the long way home and sat in traffic 
in front of Sunrise Assisted Living 
and gazed into a window facing the street 
at a figure in a cotton gown and thought: 
Human beings live too long today. 
I lived in the second century of these wars.

 

The Grandfather of the Groom Steps Away from the Reception and
talks to His Great-Grandson Asleep in a Pack-and-Play

I've always preferred funerals to weddings.
The food tastes better and everyone tells
fond stories about the one in the box

no matter what they thought of him in life.
I never knew my second cousin Ding
earned a Purple Heart in the Pacific.

Ding, who made himself a paraplegic
driving home one night from Finder's Pub
and killed a teenage girl in a station wagon

and would've gone away a long time
if his father hadn't been a Town Selectman.
Even in that chair, Ding had a nasty streak.

We all saw how he treated his wife Pammy.
Put her in Saint Vincent's more than once.
She'd say something Ding didn't like

and he'd haul off and belt her where she stood,
whacking her in front of the family
or in line at Walgreens-he couldn't care less.

The man had no control. But that afternoon,
I watched Pam and the kids weep by his coffin,
nodding when the priest called him a hero.

It's different when the one who dies is young.
I'm thinking of your cousin Sarah Anne,
Mag and Teddy's girl. She had the sugar.

At age thirteen, she fell into a coma
and never woke up again. Teddy and Mag
would stay with her in twenty-hour shifts.

Mag had already lost her job at Zares

and Teddy had to take a second mortgage.
That was one funeral I wish I'd missed.

My father-in-law, Red, is another story.
Playing eight-ball at Stoney's once, Red called
two Army Privates on leave "baby killers."

He couldn't have been a day under seventy.
They would've killed him if I hadn't intervened.
I cracked a pool cue across one guy's face

as Red sat smiling. I felt awful, but Red was family.
Last time I set foot in the old man's house
my son Mark, a toddler, was throwing his food.

I gave him a smack, my son, a tap on the hand.
Red screamed at me, "If you touch my grandson again
I'll kill you." I grabbed Red by the collar

and slammed him up against the Frigidaire,
his feet dangling as I lifted him higher,
his glasses clattering to the hardwood floor.

When he died, I nearly crapped myself laughing.
Still, at dinner, after we buried him, I cried.
I couldn't help myself. I lied and said

how much he'd meant to me, a second father.
Stone-cold sober, I had to leave the room.
I don't know why I put on such a show.

I guess it comes from growing old yourself
and watching too many of your friends go.
Then, one morning, you hop out of the shower,

wipe steam from the mirror, and realize
you've outlived your own father by thirty years.
Thirty years. He wouldn't recognize me.

My face scrunched like newspaper in a fire.
Everything like and nothing as it was.
You'll see. You'll live forever just like me.

 

                                      -from Natural Causes

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Poems - Bio - Interview - Review

Brian Brodeur is the author of Natural Causes (2012), winner of the 2011 Autumn House Poetry Prize; Other Latitudes (2008), winner of the University of Akron Press’s 2007 Akron Poetry Prize, and So the Night Cannot Go on without Us (2007), which won the Fall 2006 White Eagle Coffee Store Press Poetry Chapbook Award. Recent poems have appeared in Gettysburg Review, Margie, The Missouri Review, River Styx, Verse Daily, and are forthcoming in Many Mountains Moving. Brian lives and works in Cincinnati where he is the Elliston Fellow in Poetry in the PhD in English and Comparative Literature program at the University of Cincinnati.  Check out his blog at http://howapoemhappens.blogspot.com.

 

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Poems - Bio - Interview - Review

An Interview with Brian Brodeur by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum

 

Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum: I really like how you open "The Clearing" with that "I'm thinking of […]" It gives the reader a sense of being dropped into the middle of a poem and is also a rather intimate first line. It reminds me a bit of the way Larry Levis opens some of his poems. I'm also looking at this first line from a poet's point-of-view; it's kinda gutsy to open in this way. How did you come up with this approach? Did it feel risky to you?

Brian Brodeur: I started writing “The Clearing” in 2008, so my recollection of its composition is hazy. After encountering a poem—possibly by Stephen Dobyns—about a speaker discovering a couple fucking in a cemetery, I remember wanting to attempt a similar narrative, to see how far I could push the creepy love-triangle concept. In other words, none of the facts in this poem are actually true in the literal sense, including the speaker’s brief career as a wastewater treatment technician. Beginning a poem in medias res never seemed risky to me; this technique is as ancient as the Song of Ilium, probably older.  

AMK: There's a wonderfully reflective voice throughout "The Clearing" that starts with that opening line and continues later on in lines like "I guess a part of me must miss that work..." The voice is also very open-minded in tone. We get an image of a young man who hasn't yet established what he thinks of the world but is working his way toward such self-actualization. How did you come to this voice?

BB: If memory serves, I wrote “The Clearing” during the same period as I did the title poem of the volume in which it appears, Natural Causes (Autumn House Press, 2012). I think of these poems as hybrids between the typical first-person lyric-narrative we see so much of these days and the dramatic monologue of which we see significantly less. Actually, making a distinction between the two modes might not be useful here. But your characterization of the speaker of “The Clearing” sounds right; I think of him as a man in his late twenties or early thirties who looks back fondly on his teenage years, nostalgic for the kind of honest work he labored at then, and the freshness of his experiences during those formative years. I should disclose here that, at the time of this poem’s composition, I was working as Stacks Manager for a university library in northern Virginia, wondering what my next move was going to be. Perhaps some of the ennui I was feeling then seeped into the poem.

AMK: I love that turn in the first few stanzas away from the discussion of the work itself and to the "true" narrative of the poem: that which the speaker observed the day he "got caught in a downpour doing rounds." A lot of great poems work this way: they open on one subject in order to get at the subject they actually have in mind. Did the poem always work this way or did it take some time to realize how to work your way into it?

BB: As you intimated, narrative poets from William Wordsworth through Michael Ryan and Alan Shapiro have been employing this technique of the meandering introduction for centuries. In general, my poems, once finished (or abandoned), never begin the same way they had in earlier drafts. I can’t imagine “The Clearing” being an exception. 

AMK: Why tercets?

BB: The real answer to this question is “I don’t know—they just felt right.” I’ve always found, however, that the uneven lines of the tercet bring to a poem a sense of tension or instability, making the eye constantly move down the page in search of the missing line in the more stable quatrain, i.e. the reader unconsciously expects or even desires the stability of an even number of lines per stanza and therefore feels unsettled if denied that stability. This kind of tension serves the longer narrative poem in the sense that it keeps things humming along, facilitating the dramatic action with an additional thrust of motion from stanza to stanza and providing a kind of incentive for the eye to keep moving. This is not my idea, but I can’t remember whose it is.

AMK: "After Rukeyser" is a more lyrical than narrative poem. Yes, there are images and statements that give us a sense of where the speaker is and who he is, but the true power behind this poem comes from the wonderful language in moments like "I woke each day and dry-swallowed my pills / for hypertension [...]" and "I thought about the periods between wars / when munitions are stockpiled in storehouses / and the civilian population can forget." There's a beautiful but entirely accessible musicality to these lines as well as a sort of dull, dry tone that establishes a very real sense of loss, desensitization, and uncertainty. How do you make such musical and meaningful lines without (as more than one editor have accused me of) "getting lost in the soup?

BB: I’d call the form of “After Rukeyser” relaxed blank verse. There’s something about the five-beat line that encourages narrative development and meditative inquiry, at least for me. I’m not sure I want to ever quite define or understand that something. Instead, I’d prefer to compose more poems in this form and see where it leads me. To this end, I’ve found that writing poems, as opposed to theorizing about them, provides significantly more pleasure to the serious practitioner. Composing, rather than criticizing poems probably furnishes the poet and critic both with more insights, too, into the craft of poetry, than ways in which poems are made. This aspect of the art, that poems are made things, is often ignored or dismissed by theorists to the detriment of their assessments.  

AMK: Who is speaking in this poem? There are moments that make me feel like it's a soldier, but I'm not sure. I'm also not sure it really matters because the speaker encapsulates the way (I think) a lot of people feel about the wars. That we can't do anything to stop them. That our vote is meaningless. And that, oddly, we humans live too long to be able to sustain our culture. Is this something you were concerned with in this poem?

BB: I’m not sure who the speaker is here, but he’s a civilian. I don’t think a soldier, someone who’d actually served, could achieve the kind of detachment this speaker displays. This poem was a way of doing something with the helplessness and malaise I felt and still feel about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, how far-removed they seem to our everyday lives of work and love, haircuts and sandwiches. I’m not sure what you mean by “culture” here. In terms of geological time, though, it’s impossible to sustain anything, of course, including the American habit of policing the world, and the poetic habit of criticizing it.    

AMK: I love the form this poem takes. There are some nice variations in sentence lengths, all of which are organized in short, powerful lines. I also like how that single, long stanza looks on the page. How did you come to this form? Do you think about what poems look, physically, like on the page?

BB: Thanks. Since poets have had access to affordable typewriters, and probably much longer, we’ve been concerned with the visual appearance of the poem. But, as I said above, this poem is composed in a rough iambic-pentameter line; this aural characteristic dictates the poem’s presentation on the page. I arrived at this form by way of the first line of the poem by Muriel Rukeyser on which this poem is based, a line that serves as epigraph to my poem. “After Rukeyser” is a kind of response to the call of the original, an attempt at dialog with Rukeyser and her “first century of world wars,” an update I wish wasn’t necessary to make.  

AMK: "After Rukeyser" sticks out in your new collection from which these feature poems come, Natural Causes, which is mostly narrative in nature. Why not try your hand at a little more lyricism? 

BB: The lyric poem, in my view, has dominated the scene for long enough. I’m more interested in the narrative and dramatic modes that can be found in poets as diverse as Chaucer and Robinson Jeffers, the ways these poets negotiate intricate plotlines and dramatic situations in verse. I’m also concerned with shorter narratives, from popular medieval ballads such as “Judas” and “Sir Patrick Spence” to the dramatic monologues of Robert Browning, Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ai, and Frank Bidart. I’m specifically interested in how characters are created and developed in poems, and how dramatic tension is achieved and sustained, without sacrificing concision, music, or formal rigor.

AMK: "The Grandfather Of The Groom […]" is a really fun poem to read. It's super imaginative and roams around narratively in a way that reads more like a monologue than your typical "poem." How did you come up with it?

BB: I’m glad to hear it. I actually have no idea when I wrote this poem. It must’ve been around 2010. At any rate, it’s based on a conversation I had with a friend, Matt Burriesci, from whom I stole the first line. Matt and I were drinking beers on the porch of my old apartment in Fairfax, Virginia, just shooting the shit, when he confessed, “I’ve always preferred funerals to weddings,” or something to that effect. Burriesci can be a bit curmudgeonly—in the most lovable sense of the word. But he was on a roll this particular evening. Anyways, once I decided the line belonged to literature, the speaker and dramatic situation of the poem emerged.  

AMK: The title here is pretty crucial. Without it, we'd have no idea who was speaking or to whom or why. It's also really long and establishes the sort of semi-absurdity we're about to encounter in this character. Is character important in poetry? That's something we usually worry about when talking about fiction... Were you concerned by the long title?

BB: James Wright, especially in the books The Branch Will Not Break (1963) and Shall We Gather at the River (1968), has been a major influence on my poems over the years. In these books, the titles of Wright’s poems sprawl, announcing their tone and dramatic occasion in one breath, so to speak, e.g. “As I Step over a Puddle at the End of Winter, I Think of an Ancient Chinese Governor” and “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota.” I’ve always admired the boldness of this move, to reveal explicitly all of the narrative information a reader will need so that the poet can get on with the business of lyrical expression. While my poem is obviously less lyrical in nature than Wright’s work, I’ve tried to make that same rhetorical gesture so that the grandfather could riff verbally to the sleeping toddler, the not-so-captive interlocutor of the dramatic monologue, who has less to say. 

 

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Poems - Bio - Interview - Review

A Review of Brian Brodeur's Featured Works by POW Contributing Editor Zach Macholz             

Of all Denise Duhamel’s praise for Brian Brodeur’s second full-length collection of poems, Natural Causes (Autumn House Press, 2012), it is her description of the book as “brimming with humanity,” that resonates the most.  The word “brimming,” in particular, seems most fitting.  The poems selected for this week’s feature are all chock full of humanity.  They are also teeming with language heightened by the rich interweave of rhyme, near-rhyme, assonance, and consonance.  Brodeur has constructed poems that tell stories of human lives and interactions that overflow memorably, with an uncanny, sometimes gritty authenticity that refuses to look away—or even blink—during incredibly personal, and sometimes unpleasant, moments.

            “The Clearing,” begins straightforwardly, almost casually, as if picking up in the middle of a thought, and situates us immediately in a time and place:

 

I’m thinking of Gidge Torniolo, the Systems Operator

at the Upper Blackstone Treatment Plant

where I worked part-time the summer I turned sixteen

 

power washing the tanks and helping technicians

superheat greywater into pellets

we sold to local farmers as fertilizer.

The poem moves almost cinematically from detail to detail: these stanzas are easy to imagine as the opening sequence of a film, beginning with a close-up of Gidge, moving to a wide shot of the plant, and then following the narrator through the bustling inner workings of the place before finally surveying the plant’s surroundings with a wide shot of rolling farmland. 

            Fully situated, the poem quickly turns toward a particular memory, a memory whose candid retelling finds its momentum in the richness of its sounds:

 

I guess a part of me must miss that work,

sweating for minimum wage, scraping nightsoil

from under my fingernails, even the afternoon

 

I got caught in a downpour doing rounds…

But sophisticated assonance and consonance are not the poem’s only virtues.  As compelling as its sounds are, and as well as they are tempered against the syntactical line breaks and the evenhandedness of three-line stanzas, it’s the poem’s narrative honesty that is most appealing.  The narrator, out walking the grounds, looking for deer, comes across two nude figures in a clearing:

 

In the haze, the man looked like—no, was Gidge

closing his eyes as he fondled the ample flesh

 

of the woman straddling him: ten years younger

and (do I have to say it?) not his wife. 

I ducked behind a trunk, all three of us

 

so engrossed we didn’t notice

the rumbling above us coming closer, the sky darkening

as the first few drops clicked against the leaves.

The rich tapestry of sounds continues throughout the narrative, in which the narrator seeks shelter in a utility shed where he is momentarily joined by the couple, still nude, clutching their clothes to themselves, in a moment that embodies the poem’s unflinching dedication to the truth:

 

…Gidge grabbed the woman’s arm

and pulled her closer, told her she’d be warmer

between us two.  He put his arm around my shoulders

 

and squeezed us together, winked at me, still

laughing his belly laugh, his erection

undeniable beside my thigh.

After the rain ends, Gidge said something that “sent the woman stomping off into the woods,” and then he and the narrator

 

…walked back to the Plant together, Gidge

and me, exchanged the odd grunt, but nothing more.

 

What was there to say?  We were both cold, both

hoping to slip in through the loading dock

before the foreman started asking questions.

The poem’s somewhat abrupt ending mimics the way the moment itself must have seemed to have ended to its sixteen year old narrator: steeped in awkwardness but moving quickly through it without any attempt at explanation.

            In somewhat stark contrast to “The Clearing,” stands “After Rukeyser,” an homage to “Poem” from The Speed of Darkness by Muriel Rukeyser.  Brodeur preempts the poem with an epigraph that is, in fact, the first line of the Rukeyser poem to which his poem pays tribute: “I lived in the first century of world wars.”  The first line of Brodeur’s poem picks up the baton, as it were, from Rukeyser’s, and continues to update it from there:

 

I lived in the second century of world wars.

I woke each day and dry-swallowed my pills

for hypertension and high cholesterol

and turned my devices asleep on the desk

to check the nighttime progress of the wars.    

The poem mirrors Rukeyser’s sentiments in the sense that it recognizes the vast gulf between the narrator’s world and the world where wars were taking place.  Compared to Rukeyser, whose poem suggests various ways the narrator attempts to bridge the literal and figurative distances between herself and war, Brodeur’s narrator seems even more resigned to the inevitability of war and the insurmountable distance of it.  The narrator is so resigned to this reality that he has become numb: 

 

…I waited

for myocardial dysfunction or septic shock

to put an end to them.  But the wars

only changed names, addresses, currencies.

The narrator’s voice becomes trancelike, almost catatonic as the narrator’s thoughts meander, but the poem maintains momentum through its use of a progression of slant rhymes, ultimately arriving back at the narrator’s inability to empathize:

 

I thought about the periods between wars    

when munitions are stockpiled in storehouses

and the civilian population can forget.

Then an unmanned droned missed its target

and blew up another crowded marketplace

and I braced myself to feel repercussions

and felt no repercussions. 

Rukeyser’s answer to war was to “…get to pen and paper, / Make my poems for other unseen and unborn.”  But for Brodeur’s speaker, the response takes a much less poetic, much less satisfying form:

 

[…] I took issue

with the Democratic Party’s wartime positions

and voted Republican then I took issue

with the Republicans and voted Democrat.

Here, the lack of punctuation between “Republican,” and “then,” combined with the completely vacuous phrase “took issue,” underscores how quickly, and how lightly, the speaker’s mind changes.  These lines, combined with the earlier lines about devices, reinforce the distance between the speaker and war, and express how helplessly trapped he is in and by a society that is almost constantly at war but has historically seen—with a few notable exceptions—none of the wars it is engaged in reach its own soil.

            Despite similarly admitting the seemingly endless nature of war, Rukeyser’s poem is not quite as bleak or defeated. Her speaker attempts to find hope, particularly in a penultimate sentence that reads “We would try by any means / To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves, / To let go the means, to wake.”  In stark contrast stands Brodeur’s penultimate sentence:

 

I drove the long way home and sat in traffic

in front of Sunrise Assisted Living

and gazed into a window facing the street

at a figure in a cotton gown and thought:

Human beings live too long today. 

This speaker expresses a much colder outlook, one that some might describe as cynical, but which nonetheless bears the weight of a hard truth about humanity: it is only through medical and technological development that human beings live as long as the speaker has, and such longevity, according to Brodeur’s poem, may be more curse than blessing.

            The reality of death as a part of life is explored more personally, and with a bit more levity, in “The Grandfather of the Groom Steps Away from the Reception and Talks to his Great-Grandson Asleep in a Pack-and-Play.”  Like “The Clearing,” this poem begins almost on a whim: “I’ve always preferred funerals to weddings.”  But it moves quickly into a place of blatant honesty, exploring the speaker’s humanity through an airing of the family’s proverbial dirty laundry.  Or perhaps, more appropriately, the poem retrieves skeletons from the family closet:

 

I never knew my second cousin Ding

earned a Purple Heart in the Pacific.

 

Ding, who made himself a paraplegic

driving home one night from Finder’s Pub

and killed a teenage girl in a station wagon

 

and would’ve gone away a long time

if his father hadn’t been a Town Selectman. 

Again, there is a complex fretwork of alliteration and near-rhyme that makes the relatively straightforward narrative litany of family stories aurally pleasing, and the artifice of sounds helps mitigate the unpleasantness of certain facts without requiring the narrator’s equivocation.  

            The poem is perhaps at its most honest—and most tense—when the speaker’s father-in-law enters it.  Despite being in his seventies, he picks a bar fight with two Army Privates, calling them “‘baby killers,’” and forces his son-in-law to intervene in his defense, which he does: “I cracked a pool cue across one guy’s face / as Red sat smiling. I felt awful, but Red was family.” 

Red’s status as family is something the speaker quickly forgets, though, when Red challenges his paternal authority:


Last time I set foot in the old man’s house

my son Mark, a toddler, was throwing his food.

 

I gave him a smack, my son, a tap on the hand.

Red screamed at me, “If you touch my grandson again

I’ll kill you.”  I grabbed Red by the collar

 

and slammed him up against the Frigidaire,

his feet dangling as I lifted him higher,

his glasses clattering to the hardwood floor.

Again, Brodeur displays an allegiance to honesty, even in a man’s ugliest moments, and then takes it a step further, pulling back the curtain even further, revealing the speaker’s own dishonesty after Red’s death: 

 

When he died, I nearly crapped myself laughing.

Still, at dinner, after we buried him, I cried.

I couldn’t help myself.  I lied and said

 

how much he’d meant to me, a second father.

Stone-cold sober, I had to leave the room.

I don’t know why I put on a show. 

Once again, simple, declarative sentences are line broken and punctuated to highlight the rhymes and assonance contained within them, creating a sublime balance between aesthetic beauty and narrative clarity that continues right through the poem’s conclusion:

 

Then, one morning, you hop out of the shower,

 

wipe steam from the mirror, and realize

you’ve outlived your own father by thirty years.

Thirty years.  He wouldn’t recognize me.

 

My face scrunched like newspaper in a fire.

Everything like and nothing as it was.

You’ll see. You’ll live forever just like me.

As in his homage to Rukeyser, Brodeur evokes a sense of resignation in regards to lengthening lifespan—in this case, his own. 

            Brian Brodeur’s narratives are extremely pleasing.  It isn’t just the aural pleasure they provide through ample use of alliteration and near rhyme. Great pleasure is also found in the honesty, sometimes brutal, that lives amongst these sounds, and the unabashed way the narrators embraces even the most grotesque moments and features of humanity—both their own humanity, and what they observe around them.  If one thing is certain from this selection of poems, it is that life’s flaws, large and small, cannot be airbrushed away.  Luckily for us, Brian Brodeur captures life honestly, balancing its more grotesque features with moments of grace, and in doing so, reassuring us each that we are human, and that in our humanity, we are not alone.

 




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