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Charles Brice

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Charlie Brice poet

Variations on a Buddha Shove

by Charles Brice

 

One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Below was another tiger. Desperate to save himself, he jumped, grabbed a vine, and dangled over the fatal precipice. As he hung there, two mice, one black and one white, appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine. Suddenly, he noticed a wild strawberry bush. He plucked a strawberry and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious! (traditional Zen story)

 

I. Sight

The man skids to the cliff’s ledge
After him   a tiger

He looks down
Another tiger on the canyon floor

He must jump
He jumps

Grasps a vine on the way down
Dangles on cliff’s edge

Two mice appear
One white
One black
Gnaw on the vine

Gnaw on the vine with truculence

The man spies a strawberry bush barely within reach
He grabs a strawberry
Eats it

Luscious!

II. Touch

Tiger-breath bakes his calves
Thighs simmer
Toes cramp against the ledge

Are his shoes too small?

Wind whips his body
Vine furrows bloody his palm
Thick and sticky

Rotator cuff tears   like a tooth yanked with plyers

Legs flail like a noosed man
He feels a tiger-breath chrysalis form around his body

Mice torture and twist
Like night
Like day

Pained strain for the strawberry

Tongue scrapes rough strawberry ridges
Teeth squeeze
Tingle tease

Sweet juice soulburst!

III. Sound

Paws pound the ground like bass drums
Bouncing tympani
Mothers of thunder

His wheezes asthma the forest floor

Below

Toothy pre-crunch requiem
Ravenous roar

Wind buzz
Wind whirl

Hand-skin rips like a butcher’s slice
Rotator cuff pops like a firecracker in a beer can

Lips slurp sweet strawberry nectar
Tongue-suck jails the juice

His smile sounds like a smile!

IV. Smell

Olfactory offal terror reek
Predation musk
Perfume of prey

Acrid attar of lion-breath
Smell of blood

Dust

Dirt

Torn flesh and vine stink

Strawberry scent

Aroma of here
Aroma of now!

V. Taste

Acid
Vomit
Salt
Spitless tongue

Strawberry sugarburst

Sweet saliva syrup
A little tart   but in a good way

Palate of calm!

VI. Transcendence

His world lies in a hospital bed
Her face sweaty marble

She’s not going to make it

Every vein pulses
A tsunami of dread

He’s breathless

Death after him
Death waiting for him
For us all

He leaps

Grabs

Sobs

Days into nights into days into nights into days

Thick tongue mouth sear
Dangling between panic and despair

Forty years married he
Bends towards her face
The edge of peace

He kisses her lips

Luscious!


 

Ten Paintings by Matisse

 

1. The Open Window

iron bars

2. Blue Nude

aren’t they all

3. The Conversation

strictly one-sided

4. The Painter and His Model

were one and the same

always

5. Woman with a Hat

spits at Carole Maso

steals her cahier

6. Bathers with a Turtle

those motherfuckers

he was just a turtle

out for a swim

7. Beasts of the Sea

ask Churchill

8. The Music Lesson

slap my fingers again

bitch

9. Male Nude

age 27

they found water

in his lungs

10. Luxury, Calm, and Desire

set out the juice glass

watch the bees drown

we have time

 


 

Ten Jazz Standards

 

1. I Mean You

Don’t look around
I’m talkin’ to you

2. How Insensitive

On line all day
Hoping to get offended

3. Alone Together

You thought we were friends
We weren’t

4. A Child Is Born

Every time you open your mouth

5. Come Rain Or Come Shine

You are so predictable
Liver flukes are more interesting

6. Autumn Leaves

Why won’t you

7. Take The A Train

It’s for a-holes

8. Day Dream

Any dream
Is better than listening to you

9. In A Sentimental Mood

You hated sentimentality
Something no one will ever feel for you

10. How Deep Is The Ocean

Why don’t you jump in and find out?

 

 

Tarzan In Winter, 1955

 

1.

Our living room in Cheyenne,
fifteen by ten, so large for my
five-year-old body. Two planters
at the far end of the room
filled with ivy and bougainvillea
a jungle where Tarzan protected
Jane and Boy from marauding natives,
lions, tigers, and English missionaries
who threatened with civilization
and school. In my planters
poison darts bounced off Tarzan’s chest
like tiny sticks, the natives falling to their knees
as he beat his breast in triumph.
In my jungle Tarzan tamed lions and
tigers, rode them like a rodeo cowboy;
chased missionaries who ran so fast
their safari hats flew off their heads.
Tarzan, Jane, and Boy used them for soup
bowls on cold nights in the Jungle.

2.

The drums were loud that winter. Tarzan
held up his hand when Jane asked
what they said. It was important
to get it all. The drums said the white man
had made new suns that spread poison
clouds swarming over the land. Did the drums
tell Tarzan about my white count gone crazy,
about Sandy Risha who died of leukemia
when she was twelve; all those kids who fell like ions
out of mushroom clouds? Did he fear for Boy?

3.

Tarzan watched my father wrap me
in a blanket – my ankles swollen again,
my throat sore again. They said I had Romantic
Fever. My dad’s hangover arms held me
to his scratchy face, his hands too unsteady
to shave. “It’ll be alright, Charlesy,” he said,
and carried me through the snow, to the car,
to the hospital, where nurses took my blood
every morning for six months, shoved a thermometer
up my behind every day, made me drink canned OJ,
and wouldn’t let me walk. In my five-year-old mind,
Tarzan waited for me with Jane and Boy
in my planters. He still repelled poison darts
and scared missionaries half to death.
I’d ride a lion through that hospital
one day, needles bouncing off my arms;
thermometers shooting out my butt. I’d scare
those nurses so badly their hats would fall off.
I’d tell Tarzan all about it.

 

 

BIO

Charlie BriceCharles W. Brice is a psychoanalyst and a freelance writer in Pittsburgh, PA. His poetry has appeared in The Atlanta Review, Icon, Xanadu, The Quotable, The Paterson Literary ReviewThe Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, SpitballBarbaric YawpThe Potomac, Shadow Road Quarterly, Wild Violet MagazineZ-Composition, Arsonzine, Bear River ReviewJerry Jazz Musician, and The Front Weekly. Honors: “Goodbye,” third place, 2012 Literary Life Bookstore Poetry Contest (Robert Fanning, judge); “What She Held – 1966,” Editor’s Choice, 2013 Allen Ginsburg Poetry Contest; “Michigan Icebreaker,” semifinalist, 2013 Bailey-Beads Poetry Contest, University of Pittsburgh. Charles was recently named an International Merit Award winner of the Atlanta Review’s 2015 International Poetry Competition.

 

 

 

 

The Writing Disorder is a quarterly literary journal. We publish exceptional new works of fiction, poetry, nonfiction and art. We also feature interviews with writers and artists, as well as reviews.

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