Posted by: tsopr | June 13, 2011

Alan Britt, American Poet

Alan Britt’s recent books are Greatest Hits (2010), Hurricane (2010), Vegetable Love (2009), Vermilion (2006), Infinite Days (2003), Amnesia Tango (1998) and Bodies of Lightning (1995). The Poetry Library(www.poetrymagazines.org.uk) providing a free access digital library of 20th & 21st century English poetry magazines with the aim of preserving them for the future has included Britt’s work published in Fire (UK) in their project. Britt’s work also appears in the new anthologies, American Poets Against the War, Metropolitan Arts Press, 2009 and Vapor transatlántico (Transatlantic Steamer), a bi-lingual anthology of Latin American and North American poets, Hofstra University Press/Fondo de Cultura Económica de Mexico/Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos de Peru, 2008. Readings & Presentations: Britt recently served as Panel Chair for Poetry Studies & Creative Poetry for the PCA/ACA Conference 2007 in Boston and read poetry at Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ (2009), the WPA Gallery/Ward-Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River, NY (2008), The Orlowsky Salon, Marshfield, MA (2008 & 2009), Constellation Books, Baltimore, MD (2010), Community Poets at White Marsh Library, Baltimore (2011). Alan currently teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University and lives in Reisterstown, Maryland with his wife, daughter, two Bouviers des Flandres, one Bichon Frise and two formerly feral cats. Links: http://www.poetrysuperhighway.com/potw.html#fp1  and http://spectrumofpoeticfire.com/Reader%20Directory/Alan_Britt.htm

                                 Featured Poetry of Alan Britt

A POEM FOR THE 17-YEAR CICADAS AND MY BROTHER

We have one cicada so far,
clutching the bottom of a weathered maroon 4×4
that supports our extended carport roof.

Upon close inspection
I determine this cicada inclined
to split open its back
leaving behind a diminutive baked-potato husk.

I often see these husks,
Pompeian fossils on the wrinkled bark the elephant bark
of oak trees and maple trees.

I happen across them during solitary walks
through nature surviving my suburban neighborhood.

But any moment now
we’ll be inundated
by cicadas exploding the warm clay
across a Norway Maple’s anaconda roots
oozing through early May’s lush green definition of love.

We’re supposed to be annoyed
by the impending deluge of cicadas,
by this band of gypsies approaching,
as gypsies always want to relieve you of something.

There hasn’t been this much trepidation
since Genghis Khan and his buddies
devoured entire cultures
during the original wild west
that occurred in the east.

But I have a feeling
that these belle canto cicadas
are primed to deliver a heroic bloodcurdling concerto
normally reserved
for Brazilian Leap-Year poets
or my brother
deciding once again to dip his melancholy plume
below the vanishing ripples of his mercurial soul.

48 DAYS

The cicadas have returned!

(I need to get out more.)

After a meltdown and half-hour hiatus,
these cicadas return to full force.

Rattling, chanting their entire existence
reduced to these few weeks.

They’ve waited 17 years in the ground for this!
Don’t think for a second
they won’t chant for all they’re worth!

Back in full swing
husks cling to everything:
the picnic table, the lattice, the carport’s concrete floor.

Some sway in messy webs
strung from carport Havisham chandeliers
filled with damselflies, moth wings
and fragments of oak leaves.

These husks are fecund, as Neruda might say,
covering our mythological universe.

And leaving behind billions of hollow traces
to indicate they barely existed at all,
while their true bodies, blazing, overshadowing everything else
on this earth for about 48 days after a solid 17-year nap
explode into ecstatic poems!

LAST DANCE

In death we waltz as though returning
to our high school proms.

Carnations’ cinnamon wings vaporize
into teeth-marks, into a reflection
of blue alcoholic drinks trailing long,
silk scarves across our faces.

Ah, yes, it appears that our silver ’57 Chevy
stuck headfirst in Farmer John’s cornfield
was merely a serendipitous sign, after all,
of better things to come!

REMEMBERING SPOT, AMBER, SHASTA, CHANELLE AND JACQUES

(For MaryBeth and Chelsea)

You know when someone you love dies,
people say it feels like losing a part
of yourself?

Haunted by a sad web weaving the ceiling
you’re willing to bargain with the devil.

Well, when my dogs died, I would gladly
have given anything, a hand, an arm,
a leg to save each one.

So, by now, I’d be armless and legless,
I know,
and perhaps liverless, lungless, missing three kidneys.

Yes, that’s how it feels.

THE PERSONA

What’re you doing there?

I’m looking for the poem’s persona.

But, what if the poem has no persona?

What?

I said, what if the poem you’re exploring
has no identifiable persona?

Well, I suppose those are still-birth poems,
or SIDS,
how sad that thought.

Still, that doesn’t explain why you’re here.

I had nowhere else to go.

No demand for skanky philosophical confessions?
No cocktail manuscripts close to deadline?

I don’t believe I’m the victim
of anything you seem to value
with such satanic indolence.

By the way, where’d you get
that gorgeous indolence of yours
tattooing afternoon shadows
below the equator of your left breast?

Now you feel the persona’s pouting lips,
her nutmeg curls,
her onyx eyes
like caves filled with two fists of wild pepper.

Her hips knock dust
from your malaise,
that melancholy matron
of your impatient youth.

Mark my words, you’ll lust the persona’s green sparrows
when she exhales.

You know that,
right?

Thanks. I’ll try to remember.

As I was saying…spotted hyenas prowled your neck
during our one night of rugged romance
in an after-hours, supermarket parking lot…

Copyright © 2011 Alan Britt

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