Sue Radziwon

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

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
my sister’s friend
we never talked
beyond jokes and hi
I never took the chance

© 2019 Brian Brown-Cashdollar

Alchemy

The Art of Wealth Creation

Inputs.

roads
access to capital
raw materials
markets &
labor

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:

burning
mining
logging &
cultivation

Centre.
NY 400
I see alchemy in action
on the petroleum tarmac
of the centre–periphery
expressway

mammalian beasts
struck down by passers-by
flesh, fur, blood
pressed
ground
into the road
red 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

Periphery.
however,
along the Inga-Shaba transmission route
the natural laws of commerce are observed

sealed high-voltage lines
protected by:
barbed wire and cameras
from the Inga Dams
to the Kulwezi mines
the entire 11 hundred mile stretch

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 global trade and crony capitalism
victims are seen as
perpetrators or pests

Output.
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

the lifeblood of peoples
the lifeblood of nations, drained
the destitute to the prosperous

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

 

© 2003-2019 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

promise of a new land
promise of new love

mama’s lessons from Mae La
don’t work in America

refugee camps are for waiting
Buffalo is for living

© 2013-2019 Brian Brown-Cashdollar

Liberation Study

This is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever written. It started as an observation on the bus from Tibas to San Jose, Costa Rica:

hanging wash
A crucifix (sic)
of weathered board and nails
supporting laundry line and laundry
a woman with clothes pins
either praising, surrendering, or hanging wash
16 October 1989

There was something about this simple image that stuck with me, but for years I couldn’t put me finger on. Over the last 2 years, I’ve spend a lot of time thinking about it, reworking it, and I think I finally figured it out:

 

Liberation Study

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
singing
survivor narratives
unfatigued, undaunted
even against the storm
of culture

gust, snap
surety of faith
gust, snap
liberty of submission
gust, snap
dignity of the maternal

the wind shifts
through her loose strands of pelo
and her floral frock
gust, snap
lifts the veil

praising,
surrendering, or
hanging wash

© 1989-2019 Brian Brown-Cashdollar

Scajaquada

emerging
from its poison culvert
it enters Forest Lawn

running through
Olmsted’s sculpted ravine
undisturbed only here
not channeled
not tunneled
still flowing over 400 million
year old dolomite

at the top of the hill
above Serenity Falls
the Chief lay reposed
lullabied for eternity
by a gentle cascade

in Moffett’s Grove
two sunbathers
in appropriately
black bikinis
recline safely away
from the leer
of living men
with only male
finches and cicadas
within earshot

two miles downstream
Philip Kenjockety
lived creekside with his family
just northeast of the trinity

delta, Black Rock, and island
sanctuary they said
for birds and spirits

by his Seneca name
Ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
“Beyond the Multitude”
the creek would later be called
famed panther hunter
the refugeed grandson
of the vanquished Kah-Kwahs
whose father came to lead
the conquering Seneca

the site of the family wigwams
was later zoned “M-2”
General
Industrial
District
benzene, toluene, xylene
lead, cyanide, and PCB’s
soaked the soil
leached the creek bed &
settled in the flesh of wildlife

upstream human waste
is diverted further underground
through the Delavan Drain

sourced through glacial deposits
re-energized from a subterranean lake
how much water
to wash away a century of sin

© 2017-2019 Brian Brown-Cashdollar

b kwik

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

tore-up turf
trailing behind
grabbing milk
grabbing bread

priced for convenience
priced
for the working class

sometimes
at checkout
a “secret” treat

dad waits in the car
window down
WKBW 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 for 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

Reboot

I’ve written for nearly 40 years without really finishing much of anything. With some life changes and maturity things, I can actually say I’m finally finishing pieces. All of what I’ve posted over the last 8 years has been removed and I’m starting fresh. I’ll add some old stuff back in once it’s actually done.

-Brian