Michael H. Brownstein

Deregulating Strip Mining, Kentucky

--Gather in cinder blocks! Storm roiling in!

Ash-speckled cotton bales,
Stacked straw damp with fever,
The end of the hollow storm:
Creeks into streams into rivers
Rich with black loam, tar dust,
Carcasses, the stench so great
The water filtration plant fails.
Intakes blocked. Outtakes fouled.
If we make our children stupid—
Lead in the drinking water—
Are they easier for us to control?

With Sleep, Madness

With sleep, madness
Mansions on fire, yes; transistor dreams, yes
Polka dots bright red, yes–blood red, yes,
Dresses stained in red, yes, yes, and yes

Send in the soldier, the farmer,
Send in the school marm, the seamstress,
Send in the welfare queen, the private investigator
Send in the computer geek, the storyteller

Nowhere the cover needed to hide
The brush or the blanket
The wall or the window covered in board
The large piece of furniture to block the door

Awake, the dark forms a skull,
A mask made of fungi and mushrooms
Thick with tiny root hairs and mites
Ticks and flesh eating beetles

With sleep, a hiding place
The man you saved in a street fight
The woman who became your wife
The dog you let follow you home

Michael H. Brownstein © 2018