Posted by: tsopr | January 19, 2010

Michael H. Brownstein, American Poet

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, After Hours, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review and others. In addition, he has eight poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005).

Brownstein taught elementary school in Chicago’s inner city (he is now retired), but he continues to study authentic African instruments with his students, conducts grant-writing workshops for educators and the State of Illinois Title 1 Convention, and records performance and music pieces with grants from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Oppenheimer Foundation, BP Leadership Grants, and others.

Featured Poetry of Michael H. Brownstein


All my wives are buildings:
I love my pants with leaf stains at the knees:
admire all sixty parts of my brother:
married the water leaking from my bathroom faucet,
the sound morning makes when the sun leaks through the open window of my
and that squirrel who knows where the acorns are buried.
All that is needed is to tell you how much you really are.


The light touch of snow bends the leaf,
The brown grass of late winter feeling the weight,
And there are tracks, too, small imprints—
Vole and field mouse, raccoon and possum.
The forest has powers to transform itself to another place
And still the snow falls into the early afternoon,
The trees letting everything slip through their fingers,
Everything seasoned, everything ready to accept what has to come.
A fawn looks up from the brush. It tastes the snow.
It predicted its falling. It holds to stillness like a wall.
And the perfect leaf embraces the perfect snow,
Until at last it must let go, snow into wind.


Yes, there is a taste to the word “water”
as there is substance to fire
and weight to strips of leather soaked in oil.

It is possible to smell the word “tar”.
See a stream of cologne.
Even “comprehension” has depth.

And so, Deborah, I need to thank you for this seasoning of prayer,
the sparkle of imagined thyme,
the sound of lemon pepper on roasted salmon.


To draw a line of words across a glade of green,
The dew, morning, a house blemished by strangler figs,
And yet a shadow reaches into light and light itself glistens emerald’s sheen.
The city man does not know his character. Living is a monologue.
Every leaf olive and lime. He is not a patient man.
The forest beckons. What he knows is not a travelogue.
Each leaf takes on the shape of shadow, a softer shade of heather.
When the city man stumbles, he does not fall. Nor does he dialogue.
Some things matter less than matter more, the prairie sea green,
Jade, a touch of yellow, evergreen, a color to leather.
This goes unseen. A pity not to know green from smog.


we had to walk two miles into town,
the wind not the rabid raccoon we feared,
but the gentle new boy who also disliked baseball.
The fields snowbound,
streets unplowed,
sidewalks buried,
everywhere googles of fairy dust and stars,
the sky a frozen lake, thistle and cottonwood seed.

First tracks,
the entire landscape a stained glass in whites,
tree limbs transformed into liberty roses
and white poppies

Copyright © 2010 Michael H. Brownstein


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