Poetry: Selections from Tony Brewer

Yule Be Sorry

There are times I wish I could be
Christian for my family
It might simplify things
knowing for sure we’re all going
to the same place, or places
Owning all the same curse words
They ask advice one by one
on how to deal with the crazy one
which is everyone else but me
because I am the one on the other end
of the phone right now
I was never baptized
but I did 8 years of therapy
& that gives me an advantage
in these dark times when prayer
won’t let them not let
their buttons be pushed
I tell them that little voice
inside whispering negative things
AND the sibling who shouts them
you cannot believe that nonsense
Sometimes you have to harden your heart
Boundaries are for your safety
It’s OK to say no to family
On & on my sermon drones
In brighter times my therapist
is an enemy to them
to be vanquished
preventing me from being togeeeeether
with the other inmates in the rec room
At some point somebody is crying
& I just let it happen without comment
like Tim used to do to me
on a couch in a calm medicated office
I walked out of there every Wednesday
feeling refreshed & reborn
any words of comfort sounding like
the closing of a door & another opening
When I hang up 
I don’t carve another notch in my pentagram
It’s not fair they have to hit
up a dirty old heathen like me
when God is not love
& Jesus is not the way
We are grim with this knowledge
sad hopeless & related
I have less & less desire to say
I told you so 
but it never goes away like my faith
I hold my tongue
thrilled to at last not be the one
who ruins Christmas

Some Owners

The pistol fell out
of her jeans
at a poetry reading
Nice people
She came to spit
at the open mic
& he held it for her
She couldn’t go 
up there with it
armed when she wants
to be vulnerable
She kills it
takes the pistol back 
when she sits down
He puts his cowboy
hat back on as they leave
us all appreciating
her commitment 
to a revolver

There are many Krogers

Outer Kroger
The People’s Kroger
John Kroger Mellencamp
across town 
at Krogucci
a transitioning
cashier further
along on the journey
fresh brushstrokes
on a new painting
is the open human
I pick instead
of the U-Scan bot
I like humanity present
making efforts & working
on themselves like me
two citizens connected
through commerce 
I help bag & mutter
have a good one
under black plastic
electric eyes installed 
by corporate heads
who never
show their faces
around here

Tony Brewer is a poet and audio artist from Bloomington, Indiana. He is executive director of the Spoken Word Stage at the 4th Street Festival and co-producer of the Writers Guild Spoken Word Series and the Urban Deer experimental music series. He has published 10 books including Fragile Batteries (The Grind Stone, 2023), Pity for Sale (Gasconade Press, 2022), Homunculus (Dos Madres Press, 2019), and Hot Type Cold Read (Chatter House Press, 2013). Tony has been offering Poetry On Demand at coffeehouses, museums, cemeteries, churches, bars, and art and music festivals for over a decade, and he is a frequent collaborator with experimental music & field recording ensemble ORTET.


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