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tearing the rag off the bush again
Three Poems by Braden Bell PDF E-mail

Braden Bell





There is time today

To draw the last black ounce of news

From the paper. 


They've got names in those pages 

That just won't quit, won't last, either. 
Keep talking, keep talking. 


There is a price, I remember, for having
Been there, for having known what they'd said

And saying it back to the paper in whispers,

Like they'd have mattered. 


There is time today to pay hard money

To know that fires breed and bare feet clamber, to

Talk to the turning page about the How, and

The What After . . . Keep talking . . . 


Bright nights and loud mortars deafen and alight 

That place in the brain that cries yes and cautions no,

Marking the shrinking feeling that, to go . . .


One must start walking

But won't, just can't, not

When you're talking. Be quiet. 


There is death to dodge, there are

Places to go 


To kill the whys and the hows. 

They're called bars. 

They sell the papers, but I won't read them. 

I'm not from here. I don't know you. I can't

Hear you, but please

Keep talking. 



Took a number at the station

And the floors weren’t dirty

They weren’t but they were full

Don’t panic is all I can say

This is what floors in city stations

Are for:

Waiting then paying and going

As the fast-track monolith gets moving

And reading in a red seat beside a Frenchwoman

Nothing in her Der Spiegel splayed saying

Stay or don’t …

The ferry rises up

De-train and taste hot coffee on deck

Taste the channel up there

And if I saw the wind I felt it’d be a wet blanket

Smelling like age

But mostly like today


Is how to get a start

At the very end of things


Is how to warm the sardonic arm

As it shakes another sardonic bird away

Inviting mad motion back to the shoes …

Here comes landfall

In the space between the landfill and the mouthful

Of words I’d tell her

If I knew her.





Is the Ghost Crab 

Of the Namibian Skeleton Coast as it finds

Today's newest sand-spit and burrows ten inches below

The beaten surface, blindly

Eating tiny living things 

Just in time for the wind to blow its cover from the haze 

And take the crab away.

But the little bastard is built like a mid-century Ford

And it has fun, true fun, as it lands lost at the edge

Of the inland desert and crawls back across it,

Too strange to suck death from the slow trail to shore

And when it gets there nothing looks the same, the weather's

Changed, so it digs its place in the intertidal zone, bracing

Its slight, pale person for another blast. 


A gull touches down, mistaking a plastic jug in the sandbar

For a white shell but it's hungry so it keeps the litter

In its craw while the wind picks up, 

throwing it high and it won't let go,

goes higher . . . 

It can see the dread desert from up here, so it drops the jug

And flies the fuck away, 

Ghost Crab smiling as it crawls, having laughed as it flew. 


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