Larger Beasts

components like atoms
fiction of matter
mimicking mass

power, bloodlines…

bond of love
attraction of desire
hold of responsibility
destruction by fear

forces: strong,
then weak

shared action
shared fruits
cells, organs, bodies,
families, communities,
nations &
world systems

from many

accumulation of particles
transfer of waves

I’m afraid to ask, but
can shackles be thrown
before karma is burned

© 2012-2014 Brian Brown-Cashdollar


the arroyos in front
and back of my house
aren’t filled
by a flood of history

there is no desire
to break their banks
carve a new path
create a new order

streams and rivers change
when overwhelmed
by volume and force

The rains have come
reminding me
my view of revolution
has changed

the children tease:
men don’t sweep
nor scrub dishes
nor wash clothes
by hand in the river

I smile back
in my world they do,
or at least they can

victories are first won
snapping soapy cloth
between fists,
rinsing plates,
and coaxing dirt

I spend my mornings
sweeping out the wings
of flying, mating, dying insects
sweeping them out by the thousands
frustrated as they resist

caught up in currents of air
floating up and settling down
nearly where they began

wings – alas the children tell me
reminding me of the word for soul

floating up and settling down
nearly where they began

Years later
same rough hewn planks
same translucent wings

but instead of history’s
inevitable march,
alas, o almas perdidas,
I see the tumult of air

rather than the flutter of matter
I see conflict of gravity, inertia
the trajectory of energy
a sweeper moved by
the same thinly-veiled forces
insubstantial as the
membrane of rising
and falling wings

these termites pass instinct
through generations of young
moment to moment
life to life

each sweep
each flight and fall
backwards and forward
learning and relearning
finally, wings flutter into sunlight
out the door, settling into mud

so little has changed
I recognize their faces
in their sons & daughters
men with brooms & soap
no longer foreign
wives and girls working
zonas francas
maids in towns
o afuera
making-do is not the same
as overcoming

roaring torrents
a mass of humanity beyond breaking
a single life beyond control
or a violent rush of beginningless karma
I catch what’s left
of myself

it’s still about liberation, but
instead of the sweep of revolution
I see the movement of action and intention

I mind the breath and whisper
be determined, be patient, and finally be free.

© 1993-2014 Brian Brown-Cashdollar


Arroyo: Spanish for stream or dried stream

Alas: Spanish for wings.

Almas: Spanish for souls.

Zonas Francas: Free trade zones, where foreign companies can manufacture products, taking advantage of low wage markets at reduced rates of taxation.

Afuera: Spanish for “outside”. “Trabajo afuera” is often used as an expression for working out of the country.

Karma: Sanskrit for willful action. Here it refers to the momentum, or energy resulting from willful action that propels existence.


like a tide
moving in,
blight eases over
the east of
my community

overgrown lots
burned-out buildings
fewer and fewer
kept-up homes

sacrificed for,
cared for,


factories close
lawns go uncut
paint no longer sticks
windows not replaced
doors not rehung,
rooflines sag
siding crumbles
and wood rots

the pull of the moon, the sun
and the Earth’s rotation?
or the inundation
of a rising sea?

do we have any say?

a mile from shore
you can hear
this encroaching sea
the arhythmic crashing
of gunfire and sirens

neighbors congregate
nervously outside,
pray for slack water
wonder if they’re next
or how long they’ve got

safely inland
some debate or opine:

it’s natural law
“rising tides
lifts all boats”

a false doctrine
justifying deprivation
and theft

it’s culture,
it’s race,
it’s their own damn fault

whatever their position,
whatever their faith
people are less safe
and a community’s wealth – lost

the only solutions:
razing bulldozers,
aspirational banners,
a smattering
of construction,
and blame

fail to save these drowning children
leaving only the strongest
swimmers to an uncertain fate

© 2009-2014 Brian Brown-Cashdollar