The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2016

All Issues
MAY 2016 Issue




Joanne sends a photo of  “Hindoo Rats” drinking milk.

              A million people expected in DC for the Inauguration.

An imaginary crowd of elusive visions consolidate
and overcome a 40-year habit of fear
and disappointment.

              It terrifies to believe in hope, mortifies to open the door.

              Look into the topsy-turvy banyan grove of transmission.

A fortune reclaimed, an axiomatic regression supplanted

                     by fusion of                         dreams,  dogma


              in transcendence, real work, love and humanity. It’s not

possible. Too good to be











Hide in the woods, crazy agitation, scribble in the grove.
An hour in the morning between walking the dogs.
And answering letters I write this down.

Is there language more beautiful than that of blood and death?

A hook is cast into the mangrove branches.
                 I reel in the shore.

Shards of grace and irretrievable sadness.

I hope the carpet dries and Cheney goes to prison.

Number 2 Al-Qaeda calls Obama a house slave.
Insists nothing has changed.

I look for my face in my family tree
Someone who resembles me, unable to recognize
myself as an original.

Some writers like Patchen and Miller
had their own language.
Like Blake and Keats.

I’m a cup of coffee.
A tube of toothpaste.
In the maelstrom of the soul.


It might have been
the growing shade of the forest that blocks the sun.

Or it might have been fear
that breaks the news in half.








II. The Orphic Boxer

Chicken and cheese burrito.
I visit David Bromige in the hospital.

We try to think of plenty during a time of scarcity.

Abstraction against opacity.

4th night of Hannukah.
Rain storms the redwoods.

Ziggy stands in the garden.
Fallen wisteria leaf stuck to his nose.

Last minute Christmas shoppers.

The peel of sweetest navel orange on my desk.
Carmina Burana plays on the laptop.

watch a crow carrying a strand of toilet paper
fly into the naked branches
of a persimmon tree.









Colony Collapse Disorder

"Glory for the crazy people/In this stupid world."
--Ahmed Fouad Negm

I walk. I jump. I leap.
Prisoners of scientific imagination.
Unaffiliated dreamers go on wings and bends.
Behind light.
Beautiful suicides strung out all night.
What could we know about paradise?


January 7, 2009, 7:18 a.m., too many numbers
Foggy morning silhouettes.
Frozen ice puddles on the roof.

I wake up in the dark in Galicia, New York, Rome,
and in London 40 years ago, in the Islington basement
apartment, with the dying zebra plant.
I’ve seen the end of the world again.


Star power, cosmic internationalism.

Remember the revolution?

My dog looks like a rock star.
I take his picture in the garden.
That’s what lonely monks do.







Michael Rothenberg

Michael Rothenberg is publisher of the online literary magazine Big Bridge, and co-founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, His most recent books include Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story (Ekstasis Editions-Canada/ Shabda Press-USA) and Sapodilla (Editions du Cygne-Swan World, Paris, France, 2016). A collection of his poetic journals, Drawing The Shade, will be published by Dos Madres Press in 2016.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2016

All Issues