Selections from The Caveat Onus by Dave Brinks

Born in 1967 and raised in New Orleans, Dave Brinks is the editor of YAWP: a Journal of Poetry & Art, publisher of Trembling Pillow Press, director of 17 Poets! Literary & Performance Series, founder of the New Orleans School for the Imagination and literary editor for ArtVoices. His poetry has been published in dozens of magazines, newspapers, journals and anthologies throughout the U.S., Canada and overseas. Brinks' works also have aired on NPR's All Things Considered and PBS' News Hour with Jim Lehrer, and have been featured in National Geographic Traveler and Louisiana Cultural Vistas. He is the author of eleven books of poetry including The Caveat Onus (Black Widow Press, June 2009); and is currently at work on The Geometry of Sound, an experimental and cross-disciplinary, book-length poem exploring the origins of alphabets & writing systems.


The Caveat Onus 240 pgs. (Black Widow Press 2009)
ISBN: 978-0-9818088-4-0


                                                                      for Niyi Osundare

this slender hour comes forward
to see what can be salvaged
the flowers' no flowers
how to say the drowning city of New Orleans
each second canceling out the next
such is the palate this morning
what it was to ascend a staircase
of wandering sound
but to go on forever
where nothing has a schedule
I dream a lot to write it down
a busted hourglass whose operations
ordered me to be made



there's this to say about being
at the tail end of a lizard
O delicate death with soft feet
spouting branches over uninhabited playgrounds
O muse of black sand
in the door-yard blooming
the welcome night & the stars
let the ghosts of these words
pass from this world
where nothing lives
let our lady of Charon
dress her child in blue
whose sadnesses answer to no name


one hundred and twenty-nine
                                                              for David and Lindsey Shapiro

I sing the colostrum the body epileptic
tearing pages from a book
or with tongue
I am also the heave of water
lapping over the back and neck
drawn in by its breath
look on this wonder
swim in it as a sea now consumed
whose gentle white caps
form a puddle at the bottom of my glass
such eyes such pluck such fecund air
I am ready to get on with life
I am already dead


one hundred and forty-two

O litterateurs O immortelles
O emporiums of dissected nirvanas
is there something left over from your walking
your moon is cold
and packed for travel like a souvenir
even your stomach digests itself
I should wear sunglasses & plastic gloves
as I lay out your tongue & entrails
and bury them certain fathoms in the sky
let it form a new constellation
I'll even pretend this moment doesn't have a name
the acedia of the scribe is a sad trope
O American poesy you disappoint me


one hundred and fifty-six

comely I came dripping
with the scent of timeless stupid things
tearing pages from a book
the first chapter the best chapter
my vocabulary did this to me
I have no need to exist eternally
I was born under the serpent
church gives me a mustard feeling
the lizard ambles through leafy cover
I dress myself up in a hammock for the afternoon
a barge is making a wide turn downriver
the circumference of a circle
is a calendar that says August full moon