Posted by: cousinbrandon | September 3, 2010

Versus: The Poetry of Cousin Brandon

Me writing about or referencing my drinking is nothing new. I drink too much too often. Or at least, too often. Last night I had a couple Yuengling Lagers with my girlfriend, who is visiting from out-of-town. She doesn’t have Yuengling in her part of the country, so it’s always a nice treat to drink it with those who don’t have regular access to it. It’s not my favorite beer, mind you, but people in these parts drink it like it’s liquid gold about to be taken off the market. It’s fine, and great for the price, but let’s not overdo it. I’ve made no secrets about my passion for Miller High Life. It’s cheap. It’s best served super cold. It’s great on a hot day. And, well, even the label is fantastic. In all honesty, though, I don’t care for the new High Life marketing, with the High Life employees delivering the beer and so forth. What’s more, why did they ever give up kick-ass ads like these? They were so goddamn perfect.

Today’s poem, “Practice,” won’t appear right on your screen. That is, aesthetically, it should appear in the style of several C. K. Williams poems. Williams, for quite some time and in a great deal of his poetry, utilized an extremely long line. He would have his type setter lay it out so that, once the line hit the end of the page on the righthand margin, he would not only wrap the text, but indent it on the following line, like a hanging indent on a works cited page. During my time at the College of Santa Fe, I was given a final assignment in a poetry class of writing 10 poems in the style of various schools of poetry or specific poets, and one of the poets I chose was Williams. (In fact, one of the poems on my blog, “Flight,” was in the exact same style.) Unfortunately, WordPress won’t allow me to do hanging indents, so you’ll have to use your imagination. This poem, incidentally, appeared in my thesis.

Practice

With the longnecks upended, the steady drip of Yuengling and last night’s
makeshift-bliss already forgotten,
and these bodies scattered about your living-room floor like corpses in a war
flick – dead appendages begging
for attachment, palms open and upward as if heart or hope could possibly fill
them – the first glimpse
of movement. It begins with the head, the sudden shift of hip, and eyes that graze
the breath and whirl
of a ceiling fan-blade. There is no voice, no semblance of sermon, speech, or
sentence structure; only grunting
and the accompanying weight of card-play, of finger-pointing and shame, the
memory of your father’s want
of another himself. You remember Sunday mornings, the smell of stale beer
where pancakes should have been,
your father’s non-walk towards his favorite chair – the one sporting ash deposits
and cigarette potholes –
mornings when you could spy no Bible. Somehow Sundays were measured by
treks to the local grocer,
his stash run down by noon: dad strapped in to the passenger seat as you
practiced the shift and clutch
of stick by age ten, feet barely scraping pedals, the awkward gawking of lone
motorists who knew you were
too small, whose protests and fist-waving couldn’t pierce the windshield, who
couldn’t clutch their own boy’s hand.
You wouldn’t watch and instead let the engine idle, pressed your palms into the
wheel, kicked and cursed yourself
for being little, for his thick, withered skin that wouldn’t crash or crumble, the
imprint of liquid dinners
still rocking you to sleep. Beyond the slip of stars and dream, bottle caps fastened
by spill and barley-stick
to the linoleum floor, you rise, finger the ring of memory and morn, and ignore
the wear of late-night drink
as the dead begin to rise, the next day’s burdens so unfortunately near.

BD

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