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