Beside a Mother’s Death Bed. ( & Lullaby. ) by Michael H. Brownstein

A black fog squinted into crevices between her teeth,
India inked her gums, her breath a ragged windstorm with a kite,
the kite dodging and dipping, flipping and shifting,
a tree branch, then—

When you placed your hand in hers,
she squeezed your fingers as if she knew, her eyes open,
a stutter and a—

The shape of California and the shape of Illinois
no longer mattered to her, her hair honeydewed from tie-dyed blonde,
the strands of white began—

And the black fog undermined her lips,
her pale skin dimpling into tiny blood warts,
insignificant, but there nonetheless and she lay in bed
head jerking, mouth wide, and she—


Lullaby.
The heat in the salve of the tongue
stuttered shapes of matted fur
eyes closed, a need archipelago.

Do you not remember Noah naked in his tent
drunk from sex? This is not the same.
This is love, a tongue stretching,

The inside child wakening, the fox,
the wolf, the courageous coyote.
No one comes here to laugh at us.

We are not diminished. Here we are safe,
warm, a friction to adore, a friction
that cares about us.


Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others.  In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011), Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013) and The Katy Trail, Mid-Missouri, 100 Degrees Outside and Other Poems (Kind of Hurricane Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

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