04 August 2006

Featured Poet: Brandi Homan

Brandi Homan is editor-in-chief of Switchback Books. Her chapbook, Two Kinds of Arson, is forthcoming from dancing girl press in January 2007. Brandi's work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, magazines like Salt Hill, North American Review, Fugue, CutBank, Natural Bridge, and others. She writes professionally in advertising while working toward her MFA at Columbia College Chicago.

Why I'll Never Play the Cello

It’s not because I have small fingers,
pointy elbows. Or because I like to let my nails

grow long, cacophonous. I’m simply not meant
for the litany of your spruce chrysalid. Too vast,
you carmine cask, perilous barrel. If skimmed
right, I might splinter, fission into diatonic
atoms, loose chords. The circumference
of my arms too distant to be halved

by the likes of you, a secant slicing
my very circle, a knife through the body
of a pear. I’ve only played pizzicato, clumsy

with tenor in a Winn-Dixie jug band.
Some fingers defy pinning monarchs
to mounting board. They refuse calluses,
split seams, rip triplets open with a hook.
Maybe, if you were a seesaw, my hips
could bear the bass and treble, the up-

and-down, the cry and sing that ferment
in the bellies of whole notes. Or a motorcycle
between my knees, pure glissando, electric
meow. Zero to eighty in the breadth of a grace note.
Nothing but wind between here and heaven.
No, a cello is different. Burlesque. Merlot
salted with crosses and cadenza,
you’re raw, rubicund. Heady
groans extorted from andante for the price
of vine. Purfling tortured with burgundy,
twisted into our own private adagio cut
from suede cocoons, the unraveling of silkworms.
These ways are easier: motorcycle, seesaw, pizzicato.
I’ve no room for you, cello, in this sarabande
of bleeding fingers. Feet firmly on the ground,
knees vibrato with prayer, and already, my head
somewhere beyond bouquets and butterflies alike.

(previously published in Barrelhouse)

Like the Devil

He holds on to life with his teeth,
dangles it by the nape.
Tastes with the fury of cayenne
and says hush-hush-hush
with his hands as he drinks
wine from me like an open spoon.
He can tell magenta from maroon.
He grins like the devil,
all jump-start and red bell
pepper. Stitches me together
as if my cunt is a wound,
his tongue, copacetic.
I mend, sprout wings,
and scream things.
A firebird possessed
of the power to fly,
he shuts his eyes,
and wills it so.
Off he goes.
Grunt and scruff, this
spitfire. This hellcat.
A scrapper who turns the screws
of my truss rod, straightens
my back. Names the stars
of my knees with one eye
closed, opens my gates,
faces the bull.
OlĂ©! He’s muy caliente.
Itch, bitch, and boil,
he celebrates supine
and sublime. Pins
the tail on the donkey
every time, this toreador.
A necromantic lynx who
swallows whole but plays
legato, in tune.
He follows me out of rooms.
It will be all right.
He who holds on to life with his teeth
will never go hungry.
Faster, pussycat.
Kill! Kill!

(previously published in

Copyright 2006 Brandi Homan