Two poems: “Satan” and “Leaving & Cleaving”

Satan

Satan, you tear-filled jamboree,

I can’t help but see you everywhere.

Every movie is a movie about Satan.

Even the one where a blind man in overalls sees

the world through his only unbroken banjo string.

Satan sits on a throne of film canisters and cries.

The sun has a particular way of cutting

through the blinds and lighting up

the cat’s spine. That sunlight is all Satan.

And so I must make peace with two hells cooking me

at once: the hell below me and the one above

this ball of light and its army of swirling moons. Now I hate birds.

I got dizzy at breakfast when I thought too hard

about the defiance of my stovetop. How the tiny buds of flame

flicker like spurts of lust,

a dance that pleases Satan. My wife,

I love her to death, and that’s just what Satan wants.

So I am beginning to deprive her of even common courtesy.

The little girl with bottle-rotted teeth who lived just up the street

from the Dollar General got her head chewed up by a big old Chow.

Its gray tongue a half-pound steak of evil.

There used to be a fawn the next town over

that would hop up to the barb wire fence and suck on your pinky.

Satan must love animals, too.

 

Years ago, a grip of people left my uncle’s church

when a black man and white woman decided

they wanted to get married. Their neighbors were convinced

God ain’t in that, so I suppose their new home

was seeped through with Satan. Just take a crowbar to the wall

and you’d let him into your lungs like wiry threads of asbestos.

In fact, I dare you to do it. Unless you’re too Satan, that is.

Somebody did break in once, and took their most

expensive things. They found it all later at the pawn shop.

The owner with half a front tooth was compelled

by Satan to give it back. Wasn’t much. A few rings.

A record player with a bent needle. A VCR.

Each time the woman went to the grocery store, everyone

saw her with a buggy piled up full of Satan. She’d drive

her Civic home and cook her man up a pot

full of hot Satan. He’d eat it by the bowlful and kiss her

neck at the sink, then carry her off to the bedroom

at the back of the house to do Satan’s work.

Outside, the moon looks so thin I think

it is flapping in the breeze, hung up like a chore.

Except Satan is the clothes and the line. There’s a rumor that tomorrow,

Satan is going to fill up all the evil cracks

in the world with red buckets of love.

What in the devil are we gonna do then?


Leaving & Cleaving

Today I am the         deer’s body

I am the     ground    under my grandfather’s spade

I am the tree trunk             divided by the fervor

of a hatchet                 found in the shed

by a boy   in the heat of July

My father

has a         saying    about leaving and

cleaving

that it’s what two

people

do when God brings them together

I         want    to            find a way

to be split open             on either side of you

 

without feeling like a wound


  • Brandon Jordan Brown

    About

    Brandon Jordan Brown was born in Alabama and raised in the South. He is a PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow, winner of the 2016 Orison Anthology Poetry Prize, a scholarship recipient from <em>The Sun</em> and a former PEN in the Community poetry instructor. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review; Forklift, Ohio; Day One; Winter Tangerine Review; Bodega and elsewhere. Brandon currently lives in Los Angeles.