we’re not supposed to say it
but, when you’re damaged
you don’t get to be

scar tissue
is weaker
than intact skin

sometimes though
life is stronger
than injury

© 2015-2022  Brian Brown-Cashdollar


Liberation Study

I’m proud of this piece. More specifically, I’m proud of the patience to finally wait it out. For many years, I didn’t understand what it was about, and finally after 30 years when I did, the language felt forced and it still didn’t capture what I was looking for. When I caught our reflection in the bus window, I knew it was done.

Although 30+ years does has a price. The political discourse and cosmology feels dated, limiting it’s relevance. With that said, I still think it still has value.

Liberation Study

charcoals and sketchbook on my lap
on the bus a la universidad
we pass her out back
before the afternoon rains

a cross of weathered board and nails
suspending line and laundry above hard-packed dust

clothespins braced between her fingers and teeth
struggling against billowing sheets
arms raised overhead gathering bedding
gust, snap — la fe
gust, snap — la dignidad
gust, snap — la lucha

mi compañera next to me
struggle, why do we push struggle
I don’t know
why do they always sell faith
setting down my stick
I rub the tips of my blackened fingers
catching our reflection, I laugh
I guess we’re left with dignity

then the wind shifts
through her loose strands of pelo and floral frock
gust, snap
praising, surrendering
or hanging wash

© 1989-2022 Brian Brown-Cashdollar




spikes click across Imperial tile
running through b-kwik
sweaty hair
football gear

tore-up turf trailing behind
grabbing milk
grabbing bread

priced for convenience
for the working class

sometimes at checkout
a snuck treat

dad waits in the car
window down
KB on the radio
in the strip plaza
sited to block competition
since the Super Duper exploded
under suspicious circumstances

bricks blown for blocks on Mother’s Day
as the family business succumbed to market forces

we head home with what we need
oblivious to the desperation
that drove a son to arson

when he finally had to admit
there was no longer space
for a six aisle grocery

© 2018-19 Brian Brown-Cashdollar


Sue Radziwon

Sue Radziwon

I started writing
because of
Sue Radziwon
I couldn’t say
I loved the way
your whole body laughed
collapsing to the floor
shrouding your face
in chestnut hair

I started writing
because of
Sue Radziwon
I didn’t know
how to say sorry —
losing your dad
so young

I started writing
because of
Sue Radziwon
to find a voice
a place, a purpose

I started writing
it was the best
I could do


© 2019-2022 Brian Brown-Cashdollar


The Art of Wealth Creation

I close the book
eight years for this…
I’ve studied the formulas
the recipes, the maps
they just don’t survive the outside


raw materials,
access to capital,
markets and,
no mention of soil or precipitation
no value assigned to caregiving or societal cohesion

NY 400
from Maple I round the on-ramp
I see alchemy in action
on the petroleum tarmac of the centre–periphery expressway

to the shoulder dragged from the path of oncoming traffic
mammalian beasts struck down by passers-by
flesh, fur, blood
into the road
to brown
to gold

here on the municipal,
the micro — level
the immutable laws of economics are reversed

capital-flows and resources spread outward to outlying communities
where wealth can be properly cared-for and nurtured

roads always make me remember
paralleling the Inga-Shaba transmission route
always the passenger never the driver
here, the natural laws of commerce were observed

sealed high-voltage lines protected
barbed wire and cameras from the Inga dams to the Kulwezi mines
the entire 11 hundred mile stretch
three days if we’re lucky, but we always planned for five

from the headwaters carried along roads fresh cut from wilderness
the soil cap bleeds out in the first rains after tree fall
the rest is plundered more methodically:
tv, and,

Zairians, now Congolese
attempt to steal the electricity they will finance for decades to come
leaving the occasional charred or shot body scattered along the road side

a temporary biological testament
to desperation, lawlessness, and economic barbarism

whether pushed in front of traffic by the spread of unregulated sprawl
or fried or executed by the chicanery of global trade and crony capitalism
victims are seen as perpetrators or pests

I feed into the I-90 with other commuters
merging traffic, sipping coffee
and too many fuckers playing with phones
the commerce of it all

books always tell the tale
although often not the one we were hoping for

those expert in the secrets of the Emerald Tablet
believe their practice to be a clear path to riches and economic development

whether transforming lead into gold
or trusting in extraction and export-oriented production

whether their faith lies in Hermeticism or competitive advantage
makes no difference

the poor will be poorer
the rich will get richer

with the polite-society cover of formulas, policies and structural adjustments
from Congo to the U.S. from the Kisangani-Buta Road to the 400
the centre-periphery model performs as desired
although it seems more gas-lighting than science

the lifeblood of peoples, the lifeblood of nations, drained
the destitute to the prosperous
we know who writes history
so there’s no book for that

flowing over asphalt
ground into the pavement
from red
to brown
to gold

© 2003-2022 Brian Brown-Cashdollar