brian howe



Reeking of steam trays

& the usual goggles

I haven’t felt so well

since crawling from the water

Sea god in a bird’s

footprint full of rain

already seeping

back into the mud

When I look at adults

I still see knees

Voices drift down

from the tops of trees

It’s sad to do most things

for the last time

Somewhere in the winter

the foreigner learns

What it means to be hungry

& not eat

Stomach for a brain

My muses are mostly

chemical, cuckoo

& caffeine

This is film with filthy rags

Simple magpie

dressed in drag


Those snakes at the concert hall

will not insure

My new symphony

for live birds & twine

Being in bed

with the powerful taxidermy lobby

As if art and death

were the only caduceus

I trudge back to the dungeon

to feed the kids my hairs

Their long forks twirling

impatiently at my approach

Somehow the guy at the record store

knows everything

Like in a fin de siècle

sitcom theme song the gist

is basically live it up

Use your illusion

I’ve spent my share of suspended time

in these pleasure vaults

Where the hoards cast no shadows

& there are only trace amounts

of unprocessed flesh

Please, come quick!

& bring thighs

It’s my life

& my dream

Nothing’s gonna stop me now

Balloon Boy Found Safe at Home

half of me is cutting your hair

in the bathroom

the other half is crying on the floor

hard times loop in the experimental forest

some random guy suggests that I become a fan

   of some random guy  

dorothy aniseman answers the phones

   the world is coming my way

the river is stony tonight

I stare up at the mountain

through these orbital fogs

the river is also heavier than me   

when we say underwater

we’re talking about a surface

the river rushes so I do too    

a synonym for underwater

   is aboveair    

I stare down at the lake 

where the river collapses &

the day implodes at four p.m.    

the road goes many directions

in space but only one in time


   like me

let’s drain the lake  

divert the river

drown the antediluvian books

odysseus didn’t know from peril   

his sirens stayed put, isle-locked

ours rove on powerful engines

he only had to resist, mast-lashed

we fly or comply

and it’s not just the cops

   it’s the cameras  

   the thresholds  

   the tubes

“Brian Howe is on toxic fumes

“he had no mother so he won’t be missed

half of me is staring in a portal

the other half is falconing the sky

what always comes back

carrying nothing?

they found the balloon boy in the rafters  

I wrote these motherfucking poems

the switch flicks off with a whisper  

on with a flood   

index pressure matters

the images freeze & it gets ardent like

for your headdress   I’d kill the birds myself!

   after all    

you’re my wonder wall

Breeze Farm

we know the tax game

we know tax benefits

we’re talking next level    

20 acres   with a certain

long-term lease arrangement

this is an emerging idea

there’s an application process

do you need to own the land

till the soil     get a water source

piece this thing together

local timber     optimistically

we’re thinking about footprint

green jobs     labor     focus groups

how much privacy do you want

septic and sewer    creative zoning

retrofit or start over     um

cold storage     chicken coop    

progressive barns     quarter-million    

keep it in perspective

it’s going to take as long as it takes

do what we can do today  

go to sleep

approached by solar folks  

50 years add up

things are changing thank goodness

breeze farm is different

breeze farm is learn

triangleland is one word

in passages soft     undressing rooms    

I sip fats     dial up coronas   Barb

thank you for your cold hard cash

now sound out sounds     ring hells

fond head where rills sprang from

and down     Al     it’s Thursday

afternoon     I love you     put one

in the mail     to span     the falling

away    and tell me     would you

shave birds     to save a life?    

don’t lie     what if I told you

you could shave     hundreds

  annually     in monthly

premiums?     the primal

     sounds      of humans



Postlapsarian Vices

I let my blood sugar drop too far and started to crash

A threatening force came on my mind; a “hem” or “hymn”

This book includes “penis,” “pussy,” “pornography,”

“tits,” “fucking,” “philanthropist,” “baby,” “birds,”

hair,” “art,” “meat,” nasty things in tender places

Parental discretion is remised

The signals just smash around

My imagination is very real to me and can break

my heart or will sometimes

The moment when the flame from the lighter

sidewinds through the resin within the bowl

toward the small hole or “carb” on the side

and licks a stripe of hot ash onto the pad

of the thumb blocking the airflow illustrates

how habits leave grayish records on bodies

And this moment sort of sparks or focuses

a splinter of time, the way a red cinder

gives character to an arbitrary point

in a lot of sullen dust, gray and lumpy

So half of me is absolutely wild

the other half bitterly chastises the first

and on the verge of reconciliation

I snatch a smoke ring out of the air

and sort of pop it in my mouth

because I can’t dunk it in coffee

(which I once imagined to taste of strong cocoa)

like a half-remembered cartoon ghost

and the moment just passes

like a red car on the white street

through bright blinds

Let me look at the babies in the snow

Brian Howe is a freelance journalist, editor and poet living in Durham, NC. He edits The Thread, the blog of the Duke Performances series, and writes for Pitchfork, among other outlets. His poems, sound art and video have appeared in many journals, including Octopus, Effing Magazine, Cannibal, Soft Targets, Fascicle, Drunken Boat, Horse Less, and MiPO. His chapbooks have been issued by Beard of Bees, Scantily Clad, and 3rdness Press. Online, he maintains a personal blog, Wax Wroth, and a poetically inclined multimedia project, Glossolalia.