Two poems by Brandon Lewis
The First Chair
I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like, being burned alive all along your nerves. –Sylvia Plath
I’m more cautious now. Lamer.
When a sad friend wishes for New Year’s
the world to end in a fiery explosion
I don’t smile so wide.
It may not all be explained
by the umbilical stump’s crisp ring on the floor.
That I don’t catch it is proof
I am not ready
to catch even one born thing as it fractures
into potentials tumbling. But I imagine otherwise.
This bathrobe a fisherman’s poncho.
These nerves, fish jumping in the storm.
It was always there—tender water tucked under skin
ready to open its vessel to voltage.
One day Tesla and Edison build a chair.
They strap in the first man,
place his face placed in a metal frame.
Hands they’ve doused in gin.
Gentlemen, I wish you all good luck. I am ready.
Hair ablaze, spine a song, oh goddamn
—he’s still alive. A surge. A haze
sifts through the spectators’ lungs
and works its way to sky.
Is the chair more miracle or wreckage
And if I had this chair, and a basement and a wrench
I would give myself
to the task—strip the legs, the seat, the spindle, the back
until undone from their glorious sparks.
“Nikola Tesla: history’s most productive virgin” –waittillmarriage.org
his irises do not plead for touch
and do not tell me why.
If we lack enough words for intimacy
we’d better start spilling those nouns.
We’d better admit there’s no more illusion
whether the snake-charmer orchestrates our rise
from the pitch-black earth
or not. If you only knew Bob from high school
who wore green shirts every day, a closet row of them,
Bob learning Sumatran flutes and Bulgarian,
Bob using the word asexual without discussing aphids.
The crux of the groin is a Volvo stranded
on a snowy highway. Its boxy angles tell you
nothing about its sexiness. About getting out.
A note on the poems from the author: These poems come out of manuscript created just before and just after I became a father. It’s obsessed with a maker–whether the inventor Nikola Tesla with his creations or the parent with offspring–and the neurotic, exhausting, enthralling nature that the artificer confronts.
Brandon Lewis lives with his wife and baby girl in NYC. He received an MFA in poetry at George Mason University and was recently a finalist for the 2014 May Swenson Poetry Award. His writing is published or forthcoming in such journals as Spork Press, HTMLgiant, Spinning Jenny, Salamander, Poet Lore, Fifth Wednesday, Entasis, and Fogged Clarity.