Two poems by Brian Sheffield

Brian Sheffield

The poetry of another man has spoken to me.

The voice of another woman has caressed my absent hair.

The song of another young diplomat in the middle of a crowded 
    room on CSPAN has 
        further confused my view on politics.

There is something missing in these walls.
There is something missing in the vocal chords of our history.
I used to think Allen Ginsburg spoke to me in those moments 
    of lonely silences
      where my empty hands rub on the counters of dirty offices
		and my eyelids flash strange images into
			the orifice of another hungry
				and thickening

But after William Blake ignored my phone calls
And after William Wordsworth chopped down my tree
And after William Shakespeare drank my coffee
And after William Carlos Williams stole my peach

And after e.e. cummings cut through my course language
And after Langston Hughes watched me dance through the railroad
And after T.S. Eliot screamed at me in the thunder storm
And after Walt Whitman swam with me in the river and drank my 

I decided to turn my head and look forward
For the poets of the past have burned their manuscripts
And our schools have opened a new discourse
Like the long whispers of an aging prostitute into her lovers 
As every breath howls from her pursed lips, like the movement 
    of stale air in an
empty basement still hungry for dust and the old bones of a 
    lost memory

If only Yeats could be here again and show us what 
rough beast refuses his walk back into 
Bethlehem for even now, the 
children of Babylon are 
thirsty and await a 
lunch wrapped in 
the old words
of poetry.

Monterey, Tonight

Monterey, tonight is an endless dream;
      It is a mild frost pregnant with rainless clouds and
      naked trees that molt their autumn sleeves still 
      drenched with the stench of an aging spring breeze and 
      clothe the spoiled earth that knows no winter snow but 
      shivers at the long howl of a bay wind playing an atonal 
      waltz that wakes the white caps whose dance silences the 
      symphony of whales calls who listen under the ceiling of 
      their water walls for the song that woke the sleeping sea
      so they might learn that ancient melody
Monterey, tonight
      sits beneath the low hanging summer sun that refuses to 
      leave like a tipsy friend lonely for conversation; plants
      sigh as they wait for the darkness of sleep, that they 
      might be ready for a hungover rise, ripe with cheeks 
      still red from last night’s wine.
Monterey, tonight
      is bad novels and paintings of mountains and trees and 
      boring seas and streets of shops and also black and white
      photography galleries of naked women sitting on 
      elephants; it is all cars and shoes on red-brick pavement
      and no good company without nonsense and noise; without 
      fast food and bad gas; without rides to Marina and mad 
      conversations on the way back; without empty minds full
      of marijuana; without cigarettes and hard liquor.
Monterey, tonight
      is an anger without passion or an outlet; it is bored
      cops who arrest homeless men without charge and sit them 
      in empty cells with only a hole in the floor for waste
      and the stale smell of water and naked brick; it is
      corrupt politics and lifeless wealth who sit in gardens
      behind high walls; it is old men who beg for marriage but
      are turned down for younger men of the night who are full
      of bad poetry and bitter barrels of brown beer that
      smells rancid, like rotting wood behind cellar doors; it
      is religious thought in long, clean Buicks that cannot
      make sense of homosexuality and social progress and 
      instead drops aging hands into heavy pockets to donate 
      ink-filled check books for God and Jesus Christ who 
      promise eternal torture to young heathens of rock and 
Monterey, tonight
      is an aging prostitute on welfare with four illegitimate
      children, bathroom mirrors hiding penicillin and 
      anti-depressants, and two notebooks full of unpublished 
      language that she promises to each paying customer will 
      become a book one day, making her rich enough to move to 
      L.A. so that she can write her screenplay about an aging 
      prostitute on welfare with four illegitimate children, 
      bathroom mirrors hiding penicillin and anti-depressants,
      and two notebooks full of unpublished language who does 
      eventually become a famous writer.
Monterey, tonight
      is a dead building covered in wires and the dusted 
      outline of the last gift shop and fortune teller that 
      inhabited the place before the previous gift shop and 
      fortune teller, now bought to become just one more coffee
      shop that will claim subversity before kicking out every 
      homeless customer.
Monterey, tonight
      is a late night empty evening where conversation dies 
      like the dignity of one more woman as she opens herself 
      for a man that can offer her nothing in return but bad 
      breath and a bad conscience.
Sad Monterey,
      You crawl through empty forests, starving and lost and 
      horny for love in those final moments when the mind spits
      memories into soggy eyes, projecting scenes of sports and
      sex on the white walls of the skull as light bounces from
      the floor into space, dreaming of souls that might 
      escape, standing erect to a dull, snarling moon that 
      sends its radioactive vision into cancer patients, pumped
      with poison to kill and review in family living rooms as 
      toddlers choke on Lego pieces and fall to the floor, blue
      like the water reflecting a brilliant, cloudless sky that
      feels nothing.

Brian Sheffield is a young poet and student from Pacific Grove who has been writing poetry for approximately two years. He is attending California State University, Monterey Bay to be a teacher and ultimately hopes to offer a more radical pedagogy in the public school classroom. His poetry borrows from the immediacy of the Beats, the urgency of many of the contemporaries, and the aggression of punk rock while continually striving to search for his own voice and style with an understanding of the long lineage that he follows. His work has been featured in the Monterey Poetry Review and The Lone Cypress.


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3 responses to “Two poems by Brian Sheffield

  1. Pingback: Issue 2 Summer/Fall 2014 | The Waggle Magazine

  2. Pingback: Issue 2 Summer/Fall 2014 | The Waggle Magazine

  3. Pingback: Brian Sheffield (Monterey 8 Fundraiser) | Old Capitol Books

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