Five Poems by Sommer Browning

Chat Art 1 Body

Sommer Browning. Grilz & Roebuck, for Chris Martin’s CHAT., 2012, ink on paper, 9×5 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

From Friend

It was cold. Virginia winter. Throwing lit firecrackers down the hallway. Apostrophes of scorch. The Irishman below us. How I would dress for Third Street Diner. How I told you he spanked me before work. The heat didn’t work. Where did you go when I went to work? You must have gone to work, too. We worked so much. All the money we worked. What a time to fake bourgeoisie. I might have had my apron cinched around me. I might have had ones blooming from my hips. Might have drank there until the bartender told you I needed to leave. Might have left there. Might have.

 

This is the hardest part. Describing our sex and its absence. The nights we sleep alone. Nights we sleep next to each other, nights we touch, drunkenly wrestle, these same nights we go home with other people. Nights we are brothers in bed. Arm and arm, side by side in the alleys, facing each other’s jokes about cocks, death—wait, If we could show each other the worst thing in the world, something so gruesome we’d never be the same—hangings, infections, accidents, insertions—would we? What if the thing wasn’t an image? What if we had to do it to each other? There is a plane wreck, only us on the island, how long before we murder each other with our experiments?

 

Sommer, I’m dying. I get this message on my phone in line at Rite-Aid. Sommer, I’m dying, you scream in my ear at the rock show. Sommer, I’m dying, you write in closing on a postcard from San Francisco. Sommer, I’m dying, it’s my heart, Sommer I’m dying, can you feel this? Is it normal? as we stomp through the snow to get cigarettes. Jesus woke up, but who muscled the boulder away? Some prince kissed the beauty, but who wrote it all down? Let’s go to the mummy exhibition, let’s read aloud Fear and Trembling, let’s slow the flow through our carotid. Sommer, I’m dying. Present tense. Subject. Verb. The thinning blood vessel, the soft pulsating stone, retina shriveled and rattling around in the skull. I can hear it when I jump. Then don’t jump, I say.

 

How long does it take to get to a funeral? The windshield wipers crazily smearing drops across the window, out of pace with each other so one consistently runs over the other until the other careens so far to the left it falls off the windshield hooking itself onto the edge of the car the pathetic machine-sound of it straining to work to do its job right to make everything okay and then solid blur pressing against the windshield Vaseline on the lens through which we gaze at the femme fatale soft details make her immediate danger all the more clear.

We pull into the Walgreen’s parking lot to search for tools. Since my first car needed pliers to open the window, I’ve kept tools in the car. Before this, we were received at an Irish pub by Sarah and her family and friends to celebrate the death of Sarah’s mother. I doubt celebrate is the right word. I convince you to drive us back to New York so I can take another pill at the funeral in the language of death I want to say thank you.

 

Alcohol affects the frontal cortex causing those under the influence to lose their
        inhibitions.

You affects the frontal cortex causing those under the influence to lose their
        inhibitions.

You affects the frontal cortex causing those under the influence to Melissa their
        inhibitions.

You are the frontal cortex causing those under the influence to Melissa their
        inhibitions.

You are the frontal cortex am those under the influence to Melissa their inhibitions.

You are the frontal I am those under the influence to Melissa their inhibitions.

You are the frontal I am those under the influence and Melissa their inhibitions.

You are the frontal I am married under the influence and Melissa their inhibitions.

You are the frontal I am married under the influence and Melissa is inhibitions.

You are the and I am married under the influence and Melissa is inhibitions.

You are the and I am married with the influence and Melissa is inhibitions.

You are the and I am married with the influence and Melissa is dead.

You are the and I am married with a influence and Melissa is dead.

You are engaged and I am married with a influence and Melissa is dead.

You are engaged and I am married with a baby and Melissa is dead.

Sommer Browning is the author of Either Way I’m Celebrating (Birds, LLC; 2011) and various chapbooks. Future Tense Books will publish a collection of her drawings and one-liners, The Presidents (and Other Jokes), in the spring of 2013. With Tony Mancus, she founded the handmade poetry chapbook press Flying Guillotine, and with Julia Cohen she curates The Bad Shadow Affair, a monthly reading series. She works as a librarian in Denver and lives with the poet Noah Eli Gordon and their baby, Georgia.

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