John Brehm


Getting Where We're Going

Surfeit of distance and the wracked mind waiting,
nipping at itself, snarling inwardly at strangers.
If I had a car in this town I'd
rig it up with a rear bumper horn,
something to blast back at the jackasses
who honk the second the light turns green.
If you could gather up all the hornhonks
of just one day in New York City,
tie them together in a big brassy knot
high above the city and honk
them all at once it would shiver
the skyscrapers to nothingness, as if
they were made of sand, and usher

Sotto Voce

To strip away this incessant chatter,
yes, but what lies underneath it?

Death, of course, or our fear of death.
Which is why we talk so much,

bury our heads in books, turn forests
into pages and pages into mirrors

in which we see ourselves appear
and disappear. When I look up

from the story I've been reading
about the Jews in Nazi Germany

and the silence that closed their
mouths forever, I see a girl outside

the cafe smiling in at her father
who smiles back but cannot hear her.