Two poems by Brian Clifton

Aubade with Brain Tumor

If the morning is an explosion, let each hour blow

the sky’s blue cerebrum. I’ve spent my life
moving room to room. And I will spend today




                                          as far from my brain
as my mind will allow. The multiplication

tables of cell division, today’s surgical instrument,

John’s body disappearing beneath the blankets—
let each second radiate its brightened chemicals

through my eyes. Until I wheel into sleep’s waiting room,




he will be on my brain, multiplying
until he is all there is inside me.
                                          (Do I need to spell it out?)




At night, John will sing I had to know
where you had gone as I recount my day—

the two of us curled in the twin bed
                                          of my cramped skull.




I walked and walked feeling not good but accomplished

as one drug then another worked
their mania further into me.

He rolled me over
the industrial carpet,
held my mouth




with one hand while his other scrubbed its way across me.

Our bodies in the dark, and our bodies
in the spotlight. I lost so much time

                                          after inhaling whatever he gave me.




                                          So what was I thinking
at the window, washed as I were in dial tone?

I spoke into my hand-sized phone long after the call

had ended. The city flickered
like a medically induced hallucination.
I had come over for some reason



when the key announced itself with the sun.
Later, I climbed into his building,

and he climbed into me. And so I say love
                                          in defense; when he says it—

a confession.
There were nights
I popped off




on a treadmill. There were days goddamn
blistered endlessly across my tongue.

I would return to the same video about what will happen




and people ramming their bodies
against one another in the dark.

I would say not tonight
before rolling over,
before lowering my phone

and watching the sun slide its head into the earth.



Brian Clifton co-edits Bear Review. He is a PhD. candidate at the University of North Texas. His work can be found in: Pleiades, Guernica, The Cincinnati Review, Salt Hill, Prairie Schooner, The Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other magazines. He is an avid record collector and curator of curiosities.




(Front page image via)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *