after the chest had been opened | Jay Brecker

10 mins read

                                                                    it was then—

                                                                          the moment accepting death he changed      became

                                                                 a WHITMANIC animal     placid … self-contain’d        then

                                                                      interfered with—grafted to life again      he is beset by

                                                                 a nuanced rage

he’d never known      is it because in oceans color-

less—so green      so blue      blue-green

rolled steel      or wine-dark-drunken-purple under

                                                                    fickle skies

                                                                       where sea stars began dissolving or because coral reefs

                                                                                                            had died or a car is parked too far

                                                                             from the curb or occupies two spaces      or because

                                                                     some people

smoke      or that he can’t gather magnolia blossoms

unfurling or CALIFORNIA towhees’ robin-hops or flights

of birds too high to hear      or because antic dark-eyed

                                                                    juncos peck

                                                                                             at side-view mirrors as aimless leaves

                                                cross the verge     it could have been the pajama clad apparition

                                                                  so perfect as to be his MADAME TUSSAUDS wife,

                                                   who stood as if to speak

with arms outstretched in TECHNICOLOR darkness

& proffered—what could only be—a quart container

of goat yogurt battered      empty      because there is nothing

                                                                     to do but

                                                                          blink      a pressure in his ears he’d never known

                                                         —a mockingbird fending off some crows      or a peanut

                                                                              brittle dryness that crackled      singed the eye

                                                   —he doesn’t know—

veered down the sidewalk on a summer night

redolent of afterheat      or because the sun does not rise

it does not set      we rotate instead     or that doors

                                                                     still open

                                                                                          so we break into day      & fall into night

                                                                                                        as the moon moves around us—


Jay Brecker walks and writes in southern California. His poems are forthcoming or have appeared in Rattle Poets RespondBirdcoat QuarterlyThe ShorePermafrostLily Poetry ReviewOcean State ReviewRHINO Poetry, and elsewhere. His manuscript, blue collar eclogue was a finalist for Concrete Wolf’s 2023 Louis Award.