The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2021

All Issues
FEB 2021 Issue

from City Dwellers/After Brecht

The Cities are Made for You

Since the cities are very large
And complicated to navigate
Plans and directions are there for you
Who haven’t learned the game

Joyfully we await your arrival
Door unlocked table set
Be open to suggestion
We are too

You needn’t be sure of your intentions
We consider suggestions
And will answer questions as they arise

Everything was planned before you arrived
You who haven’t learned the grift

The Street

You’ve tasted the gas looked down the barrel

You’ve had due process we’ll have the report

You have been shot don’t get up too quickly

You have been shot don’t turn around

Things got jumbled wait until

The smoke gives way

Stay down

Here it Comes

Reality will come to you in dry and general terms

Undeniable and beyond communication it

Won’t recognize you or your weary complications


The cities may change but you may not
The rubble’s kept low to prop up the stones
We may kill you when we don’t need you
Might be best to stay inside

You may change but the cities may not
The stones don’t flatten to rubble at least
Not that you’ll notice we didn’t care to kill you
The times just moved things along

Fifth Wheel

Towers of tires by the side of the highway
Sometimes inexplicably one will catch fire
Igniting the others it’s another toxic day

We are with you at the moment your head
Starts to ache you rub your temples
And realize you’re a fifth wheel

We’re in your brain and on your shoulders
From here to the horizon as you search
For a word that will allow you an exit

Without making too much of a scene
Finally you say it please I need to leave
We say you will stay until we say so

We say this openly but don’t think
We’re villains for keeping you informed
Transparency is our stock in trade

Don’t say it loudly that the world’s gone toxic
Don’t go for your gun have a glass of water
The world isn’t bad but we have no space
For you

How it Flies and How it Rolls

When years ago I attempted a very minor insurrection
And tried to study labor’s relation to profit I suddenly
Understood how everything is managed and manipulated

And at the same time I did not understand so turned
Away semi-ignorant but somehow knowing
That I could get myself into some deeper shit

When it occurred that achievement invention discovery
could be used for greater misery rage
And lamentation followed but I turned away

The thought that what they did and how
Was intolerable and shocked me but mostly
Frightened me

That those that live by doing damage to others
A situation upheld only by crimes committed
So effortlessly would just as easily damage me


Owen Hill

Owen Hill’s last book of poetry was A Walk Among the Bogus (Lavender Ink/Dialogos, 2014). He also writes, edits and annotates crime fiction.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2021

All Issues