“Cairn in Snow,” oil on canvas, by Caspar David Friedrich, 1807.

Protect Yourself at All Times

I didn’t change the locks
and the video camera records
without tape. If there was a fire,
I wouldn’t know what to save.
I took the batteries out of the smoke
detector. The sounds on the street
have ceased to mean anything other
than that I am alive enough to know
danger, headed toward me like
overnight guests that have let me
know they are on their way.

Detroit Winter

Bleak, that’s a given. No sun for
days. The spring doesn’t arrive
soon enough.  You can drive chewed-
up streets, never be lulled into a smooth
ride. It’s declining, you’re declining.
You don’t have to pretend everything
is wonderful and nobody says it’s too
pretty to stay inside and when you drive
downtown you can see Joe Louis’s fist
sticking out, all that gold in the midst
of the grey sky and you think of all
the hits you’ve taken and all the ones
you’ve given and you see snow, like
the tiniest stars, falling all around you.

What Are Your Sins?

Neglect, the self and others
wearing my brokenness as a cloak.
I hide my hurts and inflict other
ones, afraid it’s never enough
to keep me safe, unwanted, alone.
This is my body, a living sacrifice
to the siren song of implosion.
No one watches as I fall in on myself.
I’m not coming back here, no damage
deposit to collect. I’ve been at the party
too long. I’m the last drink of the night,
the one you shouldn’t have. I am a self
contained accident. Forgive me, Father,
for I am sin. The temple is a shell
and as I hold it up to my ear to hear the sea
in which it once existed, there is nothing.


Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy (Storylandia Press).