Four Poems by Erika Jo Brown


Spork's Poetry
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Four Poems by Erika Jo Brown



Tonight I peed in the church
for the first time. If you pee
in a church and no one's there,
do you still need to squat? Yes.

I took a cookie, overly spiced
midwesternly, what is this, ginger?
Nutmeg? At least I have a life
in which something to do with gratitude.

White robes are lined up in the hall
looking like angels. I am wearing
a baggy men's jacket. Jesus Christ,
how the sycamores shudder.

And how I am thirsty. The night
is laden with sycamores, lined up like
angels. Thirsty sycamores.


Large landmass with landfills, filling it

And I'm recycling, watching packaging
enmesh with those of the good denizens
of this city, pasta boxes, subscribed
magazines, colorful messes, scrappy notes, return
addresses, there is fear in the containers
of frozen meals, and other things.
I mean there is fear in other things
and there are other signifiers in the boxes.
But here we are mingling, I count
glass, murmering wine bottles, which
beer bottles of which guests, which
require enumeration, too.
So here we are judging nests in
a compactor in the middle of this city.
If you fold any map over, halve it
we are in the center.


Depressive Narcissism, or
The Case of the Lyrical I, or
Capers are for Bagels, or

Some mornings I'd like to get a witness, not because I think I'm deserving of some type of eternal reward, but rather because I'm like, damn, these bananas, look how yellow, what are we supposed to do, and why could I open the curtains yesterday but today it's different. And I'd like to think it's a function of loneliness, or nonsense, or narcissism masked as lonely nonsense, but it's the circuiting that's got me concerned. Just a person to watch me squeeze teabags, to watch me defrock, whom I can chide, and I used to think they were all love poems, because of their domestic qualities, but now I'm thinking that love poems are something else altogether. Watch me think.



I'm converting this change, I'm
gathering all the stupid detritus
of our stupid writerly connection,
I'm preheating my oven and
rendering language to send. What
I'd like to do is make a banging
poem you can hear me writing.
I'd like to make it for you

sealed with a snot bubble. You say
we encountered through my spectacles
but really, we were loafing like new
books underlining our upper bodies
casually gesticulating, we touched
covers, we were tired and probably
smelled like coffee, but why start
at the beginning of the day, or

otherwise when I'd like to construct
the present as a present for you?
The chicken in my tupperware is sexier for
being the chicken in the tupperware of
the girl you are thinking of, somewhere
squished between your millions of
meaningful correspondences. I'm sure
the courtship with your wife involved
cherry blossoms, but here we are separately
admiring regional flowers and we're
creating a cloud over the midwest,

over tri-state areas. Others can't see it, or
I haven't checked but weather is
measurable like language and if I can just
keep tapering these words out
to reach you, you may feel a tingle
pinprick. And we're both engaged privately
but I slept with this image last night
of unwashed grapes, of the film, of
rinsing off detritus to reveal red
ripe globes, ready and touching.


Erika Jo Brown is from New York, where she founded the Chinatown reading series Floetry at 169. She is editor of Stretching Panties magazine, an annual print collection of experimental poetry, architecture and drawing. She's currently an mfa candidate in Iowa, where she's working on "Lyrical Load," a manuscript dealing with the midwest.