The Inner Shore

a revision of a piece posted in April 2014, orginally titled: Buffalo

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

overgrown lots
burned-out buildings
fewer and fewer
tidy homes

sacrificed for,
cared for,


factories close
lawns go uncut
paint peels
windows break
rooflines sag
and wood rots

so, is it
the ebb and flow
     or tidal currents?
or the inundation
     of a changed climate?

do we even 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”

“the natural consequences
of deprivation
and corporate 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:
structural adjustment,
razing bulldozers,
tax policy,
a smattering
of construction,
and blame

© 2009-2017 Brian Brown-Cashdollar


was I ever
a good socialist?

debating economics
and resistance
in colonial artifacts,
bourgeois cafés,
y comedores

burning from
the plight of the poor
the cruelty of class
the callousness of power

eventually returning from
the colonies para los EEUU
to carry on the struggle,
with time, shifting
movement to service

strolling past the famous,
long befallen mansions
– Buffalo’s Millionaire Row –
now home to do-gooders
and Samaritans like myself

I can’t help feeling
nostalgic melancholy
for careless repurposing
and shabby repair

sacrificing grandeur, spaciousness
for a few more desks
or a new funding source
for as long as they hold out

while today’s
Pratt’s, Clement’s
Knox’s, & Goodyear’s
live far out of plain sight
even as income inequality
returns to historic heights
of America’s gilded past

© 2014-2017 Brian Brown-Cashdollar

Burmese Girl on Richmond

long slender legs
close in on faux heaven

what boys wouldn’t give
to get there

what girls wouldn’t give
to be there

in their ear
a whispered promise

the misunderstood lie
of desire

© 2013-2017 Brian Brown-Cashdollar

I started this several years ago, but was uncomfortable with how it resolved, but I think I figured out what I was getting at. As one of my kids used to say “patience is a virtual.”

Spring Taṇhā

white blossoms
into green leaves

vernal petals flurry
towards the greater mass

stayed gently by
concrete, grass, asphalt

and just like that,

Sweet Summer Dukkha

June Yard Work
only seven days into summer
yellow sumac leaves fall

keep mowing!
plenty of time left
plenty of grass to cut

July at the Lake
sunscreen lotion

usedta be
just for the beach

usedta smell
just like sand

August Light
half of this imagined season
simply to remind us,
summer’s almost over

autumnal nights
dimming breakfasts
then incandescent early meals
through May

© 2013-2017 Brian Brown-Cashdollar

Taṇhā (pronounced: t ạ n – h ā) Pali for craving, desire, thirst. The cause of suffering

Duhhka (pronounced: doo-kuh) Pali for suffering, unsatisfactoriness

Taṇhā is the cause of duhhka. It keeps us bound to life, to rebecoming, to endless suffering

nwit la la nwa

So many secrets

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping …

I can touch her hand only
while we sing

Morning bells are ringing,
Morning bells are ringing
Ding, dong, ding…

Kiss to her forehead
Good night sweetheart, I love you

“nwit la la nwa” Haitian Creole “the black night”

© 2016 Brian Brown-Cashdollar

A Different Them

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

was it my Irish gramma Catharine,
or my Italian aunt Josie?

the things we thought we’d never forget

my daughter asked
was I taking their names in vain?
I smiled — maybe?

but it wasn’t them I was thinking of

© 2016-2017 Brian Brown-Cashdollar