Laura Solomon
Letters By which Sisters Will Know Brothers
New Poems From the USA

      for now we move to feel for
      ourselves inside some stranger's
      stomach – Jeff Mangum

How many stitches did you get

Brother ghost

Your tantrums rooster me up

Come home with me

My nice is so tired

Let me see your stitches

My body and yours is

only a situation

a wrung sponge held dry underwater

Come home with me

Let me show you my models

I will bake you some bread

Here are the rocks

I would have gathered for you

The last blue thing is not like the first red thing

I know few things and they are not

the great and happy things I’d hoped

Cars overheat in steep desert air

Couples agree or argue over how much

or not they love each other

The perfect sky is blue

The perfect sky is black with stiff specks

of faraway tombstones flicker hello

I’m still here don’t shut your eyes

why don’t any more you love me

so look at me why don’t you don’t is why

A perfect sky buries its dead

A perfect feeling knows no edge

but the atmosphere

from which feeling is finite

conditional to the history of blue and red things

Love and do what you want

My dad always tells me who has died and how

St Augustine says that

Very seldom do I know them

Once, I killed a boy for a dollar-fifty

I own no spoon

no news to annex

to truer correspondence

Only a letter knife

for a place setting

at midnight’s crowded table

Every guest will bring another

a water over rock symphony

Meanwhile, my skin suit only rusts—

so much rain on a tinny roof

The guests sing anyway

The guests will sing anything

The guests will sing

but it doesn’t mean anything

so we put in words

Rings of water and of rock

As from below

a heavenly host will sing

Delirious rain, picture your mother,

mist, made in a cow pasture

by a man she barely knew

Who barely knew before he named

her felt foot upon the mountain

how moisture mastered over time

abrupt cornices, later

destroyed angles, kept

every letter he sent

well-loved words

Brother ghost, I admit

more than your uniform

your smile scares me

in the family photo

If I use my imagination any old where

you will be disturbed if it’s there and not

relegated to where you are used to it

But why not there too if I use it

only in the poem it will never be a poem

A person is more likely to change

his profoundest convictions

than his commonplace ideas

In a book I am reading Fellini says that and that

Augustine never advocated caprice

An unknown woman says to my mother

I’m so sorry for your loss

The new blue thing is not unlike the old red thing

Night and we don’t even know what

to do with our garbage

Brother ghost, put away your kiss

it is too wet with tears and you

are too dead for either kissing or crying

Once I killed a boy for a dollar fifty

My sister stitched close his eyes he couldn’t see for a week

She walks these hills in a long black veil

I spend my time staring at a wall

An unknown woman makes a joke

My mother laughs too hard

You view the world from your own

and confuse it with absolute truth

Ted says that only when you’re dead

you get flowers if you are a male

Maybe this is why men give them to women

when they are supposed to be alive

Mother is an oak tree now

The sky keeps having babies

Everywhere you look there are more

I am that heap of dirt

you try too hard not to notice

the green tarp on top looks not at all like grass and never will

fool the woman in the first row

I am going to take off my hat now I am going to

for I am shocking

The oak tree is shaking

The moon is beginning to scare me

Is honesty so laudable if so why

Because it is right no because it is


I know the thousand dreams a thousand children dream

I was ten in the year of the blackbird

when a flock clothed our lawn for a funeral

My sister and I were sharing secrets

about our bodies and a pink bedroom

Please don’t tell my mother we covered

our mouths when we kissed so that only our hands were kissing

Life is an affair of people not of places

Wallace Stevens says that and that

for him the trouble lies there

Not here where I am and you are lying

still as red carpet stretches

under unknown women in blue dresses

Yes you are lying you are over there

The oak tree’s leaves winked once again

I walked inside a room

The cat was white and brushed against my ankles

My sister wore a halo

My brother, the lion, with his hoop of running fire

Brother ghost

I waited until dusk

until the last of evening sun had done

percussing across the kitchen floor

had hidden your wooden prayers

among drawers

under any cooperative slip of tongue I could muster

many other underthings

Then outside

where hurried light could not decide

upon which branch to settle

each leaf moving in terror

as if it might be chosen

I rode my brand new ferris wheel

all round the setting world

He was my brother

He was my mother’s brother

He was my lover I sent away

I told him I loved him but like a brother

His sister loved him

His mother loved him

I loved his sister

I loved his mother

His father I did not love his father

His father did not love his father

His father’s father did not love his father

His father’s father did not love his mother

His father did not love his mother

His mother loved his father

He did not love his father

He loved his mother

I loved his mother

I loved him like a brother

A guest a host a ghost a beast

A mother and a father who disappear

when I am in fifth grade

I break my teeth on a swing set

My sister hers in a swimming pool in third

A sister is a brother who is

not a brother

but a kind of

invisible ink

Brother ghost

I read your letters on the rock

Mirrors can be captivating

and therefore dangerous

here are the rocks           I have gathered for you            blue and red things

other underthings            a thousand children                  read your letters

dream of                        people not of places                 keep your flowers

        Between the arbitrary and the obvious lies the essential

        Between a mother and a father lies a child who is sexless

        I think sex should be about god, even if it isn’t

        between this world and the next, but one’s world and another’s

        Between one word and another lies a meaning

        Between truth and untruth lies something white

        In the state of Georgia between Waycross and Macon lies nothing

        but dust or almost better gas up before you go

        O brother deeper down than even I could ever

        be born again in familiar forms of you

Bird to bird

Branches to branches

He’s dead now except he’s breathing

Between breaths she is thinking

a thousand children dream of blue and red things

To the end of the hall and back

where ever you look how this or that

dire thing will happen

Then some beauty shoots out of the sky

into a handful of weeds

Bird to bird

Branches to branches

The clearest water she saw all day