Posted by: cousinbrandon | December 4, 2009

Versus: The Poetry of Cousin Brandon

Many of you are probably unaware of this little nugget, but I’m a writer.

“But Cousin Brandon,” you ask, “whatever do you mean? You write a blog, so, yes, of course you’re a writer.”

Right. I write a blog. But long before I ever started blogging, I was actually doing a completely different style of writing altogether. See, I wasted a shit-load of time and money earning both a BA and an MFA in Creative Writing. My concentration? Poetry. And that, friends, is why I make my way in the world doing marketing for a non-profit organization and supplementing said income by teaching at the community college.

In other words, Poetry: keeping artists poor since quill met ink.

Aside from publishing a few poems here and there, as well as putting together a chapbook of poetry (essentially, a collection of poetry that’s not enough to fill a whole bock, analagous to a novel vs. novella), I’ve not been able to do too much with my love for/obsession with poetry. With that, I’ve decided to start publishing one of my poems here on a weekly basis. Why? Because it’s my blog and I’ll do as a I damn well please. Also, because I’m frankly tired of having no audience for something that’s dear to me. We shell out money for sporting events, concerts, movies, records, and every other form of entertainment. I’m not the first person to suggest that we should spend more time and money on poetry, but I’m the first person to say it here, so I suppose that counts for something.

So, in addition to my collection of Twitter haiku that shows up on Mondays, you can now look for a Friday poem, as well. To kick things off, what follows is the title poem of my MFA thesis, Who Would You Be? I wrote this poem in 2002, and later published it in the Coe Review in 2003. In fact, you can read an online version of the poem in its original format here.

Finally, I typically don’t ask this, but if you’d like to post comments/reactions to these, by all means do. Otherwise, here you go:

Who Would You Be?

Wolverine, my little brother answered as if
it were the only one, so matter-of-fact
you’d think I was retarded. But I was
twelve and therefore smarter. Wolverine-

Shmolverine. He can’t even fly!
was my answer. No, said my brother,
but his wounds heal automatically,
and his skeleton’s plated with Adamantium

punching him’s like punching a brick wall,
only worse. Besides, his uniform’s cool,

and he smokes cigars. And there it was:
he smoked cigars just like our Pop,

except our dad never halted a plutonium
robbery, never took a bullet for the President,
never took his kids anywhere. Instead he
propped his feet up on our old coffee table

starved for lacquer, slouched in his usual
costume of blue jeans and week-old stubble,
his heaving, flannelled stomach covered
in the ashes that fell away from his cigar

while he slept, half-drunk. He healed us
boys of want and need. He taught us
the joy of loss. And when he tossed our
mother’s luggage into the street, into that

black, gravelly expanse that gaped
like the throat of a giant boa, he screamed
“Whores don’t need no house,” and crashed
the front door behind her for good, her outline

forever frozen in darkness, always reaching
for something. Some hero, I told my brother,
the kind who smokes cigars and doesn’t bleed.
Fine! my brother huffed, and crossed his arms

against his small, throbbing chest as if
protecting his heart from thieves. But then
a smile on his face like a light bulb
about to pop from excess voltage. He grimaced,

winking and inching towards me, head
craned slightly like he’d just discovered how
to keep the Earth from exploding. So
who would you be? I can’t remember

what I told him then, but now it would be easy.
Lot’s wife, I’d answer. I’d be the woman
who turns back around to watch her world
burst into flames. It would’ve been worth it.




  1. That poem touched me so much I might sue for sexual assault.

    • Ummm, thanks?

  2. Genuine thanks for your response. It’s good to hear the poem was able to trigger something inside of you. And, as promised in my post, you can count on more to come.

  3. Intriguing and evocative.
    I look forward to more.

  4. Emotional but not schmaltzy, artistic without being wordy. Smart, yet simple, which makes it more smart because you don’t seem like you’re trying to impress. It’s raw and open, almost bleeding yet pure and in your face. Yeah, I like it even as it makes me sad. I want more, I’m glad to hear you’ll be sharing, I’ll be reading.

    • Thank you, Sir. Your comments are greatly appreciated. And, yeah, you can count on regularly scheduled Friday appearances of poetry, so there’s that.

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