Three Poems by Charlie Brice

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Pic by Anni Roenkae

 

 

 
Found and Lost
 
I want to return to the dirt road that led to our home
on Walloon Lake—where every weed that survived 
backhoe and snowplow garnered my devotion.
 
I remember how the sun shadowed the south-east corner
of the living room and where the mop and broom were
lodged in the laundry next to the water softener,
and the cedar paneling the new owners slathered
blue paint over.
 
My memory of the slight depression in the walkway 
on the second floor is vivid, as was my fear that the new 
owners would sue once they discovered it. 
 
The view from my second-floor study was spectacular. 
From my aerial perch I often saw a piliated woodpecker 
use his tail like a prehensile digit for balance when he alit 
on our suet feeder.
 
I miss those winters where it took three snow-shovel
scoops to uncover frozen ground and make a path 
to our front door, and those Dr. Zhivago treks over
our frozen lake, snow twisters and ice crystals 
nibbling pleasantly on our blush-red cheeks.
 
Material possession marrows one’s essence—capitalism’s 
curse. Years of, “I’m-not-attached-to-this-place,”
shattered on a bill of sale.
 

 
 
Boardroom (A Haibun) 
 
 
Bald heads, cigars, and grins frame
twelve feet of polished oak. 
Twelve men/women in suits
lean into each other around 
the boardroom table—
crisp-turn pages of quarterly reports.
The only margin allowed is profit—
profit and profit. 
Pesticides are doing well.
Shareholders are happy.
 
Only one Monarch
solitary and graceful
this summer’s sorrow
 

 
 
Who Were They?
 
In honor of Native American Heritage Month – November 2023
 
Their beef dried into jerky on fences 
at Frontier Park, their teepees stood tall,
bleached by the cruel sun of Cheyenne in July.
 
Their feet, moccasined and calloused, pounded 
dirt. The drums they thumped caused earth to stir 
and welcome their trodden, caring, presence. 
 
They walked, then danced, on parade in front 
of rodeo stands during Frontier Days, carried
the stars and stripes that had stripped them 
of dignity for so many years. 
 
The applause was polite and patronizing.
 
Some of them recognized favorite clouds,
gods that breathed wild above the prairie,
welcomed birth, grieved death and, if honored,
bequeathed rain so vital to the tribe that it merited
a special dance. 
 
What other people prayed by dancing,
praised mountains, stars, and buffalo alike—
knew that even rocks were alive, gave
blessings to the four directions, sought 
balance in their winds?
 
Eighteen years of Catholic education in Cheyenne
and not one mention of their culture, their heritage,
the scaffolding their spirit afforded all of us.
 
Their jewelry hung in the Hitching Post Gift Shop—
turquois and heishi going for cheap next to dream catchers 
and pottery decorated with symbols no one understood
nor cared to understand.
 

To read more poems by Charlie Brice, click here
 

About the Author

poet Charlie Brice

Charlie Brice won the 2020 Field Guide Poetry Magazine Poetry Contest and placed third in the 2021 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize. His sixth full-length poetry collection is Miracles That Keep Me Going (WordTech Editions, 2023). His poetry has been nominated three times for the Best of Net Anthology and the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Atlanta ReviewThe Honest UlstermanIbbetson StreetThe Paterson Literary ReviewImpspired MagazineSalamander Ink Magazine, and elsewhere.