Memorable Selections for Our Times from Jeri Brown.
Memorable Selections for Our Times from Jeri Brown.
Confused in the night, his big-boned face, large flat nose, large bone-chilling hands, hairy muscular thighs, thickset flattened nose and huge lips descended without consent. He towered over my 5 foot 6-inches on the cold-dank floor slightly bruised from switchblade pressed against my throat. Bent with muted cries and black rubber goulashes removed, he tossed my charcoal grey wool coat, black tights and white undies. I crouched to his bestiality as he entered pulling my shocked swollen face to the cold cement basement floor.
Stale, fermented, damp and imposed, the warm yet desolate area was interposed with intoxicating odors of rusty pipes’ toxic grime and sewer mold. Stained from the umbrage of piss-mist residue, my gore-stained face thirsted for a desperate waft of gentle air as I obeyed the loyal father figure in an eerie quiet, resilient with all my might as he stole.
Metal plate in his head.
He had survived the battle zone. WWI—his war.
Purple heart on his chest from head injury: his survival.
He returned home with medals but his mind,
Crowded with nightmares from a war that he did not fully understand:
memories of dead bodies and dreams of recurring guilt.
No one really knew what went through the mind of a brave warrior.
Bionic man, who overcame danger, survived bullets, gangrene and infection.
He came home looking for a scapegoat with the help of Jack Daniel’s.
With no experience of warfare, shot when he popped his head over a trench one time too many,
he faced a hail of machine-gun bullets.
Jagged fragments of bursting shells tore open his scalp.
he was an object of repulsion to others,
a victim grievous burden to himself.
Despondency, melancholia, with dark suicidal thoughts,
he remained through life, a stranger to himself,
in a living hell, maladjusted.
Never officially celebrated as a wounded hero he kept his medal, atop his dresser drawer where mattresses had been replaced, when he was stinking drunk and usually wet his bed.
From late spring to early fall he’d rise early,
eat a breakfast and take his place,
in the front porch rocking chair.
Kids in the neighborhood laughed at him,
staggering home, or lying drunk in an alley,
needing rescue from friends, passersby or Big Daddy.
Jeri Brown, 2018
Jenny’s Dust devil
A tale spinner, intent to ensnare my fluff, humoring me, agitating and vexing me, it finally got to Jenny, visibly,
without relief. It was a common, maddened attraction that riled me. It felt like an invasion to her senses when unloaded onto her floors. She’d wipe the powdery earth after sweeping with a tattered remnant. Yet it was still there, hiding.
Hurled and thrown down stairs, tucked in corners in sly cryptic places, languished in door-way crevices of cunning sinister scheme, she scoffed as the poorly concealed presence unfolded each day. It fried her brain, wreaking havoc through recurring sequences, with woven fuzzy image cycles of stunning lasting-stamina, offending and condescending. Jenny simply couldn’t keep up the clean-up pace.
Camouflaged, it boldly pranced through her abode at will like an invader leaving a trail of disgust-dust, making unwelcomed presence in unforeseen places, uninvited. If only Jenny could utter her disdain, her scorn.
Dust bunnies, my foot! Have you no voice?
Cowardly and cunningly, it appear when least expected from gusty skyward wind bursts of cross and upward flows,
to increase Jenny’s instinctive sense of guilt from poor housekeeping. Dishes rattled as she spotted its furry symbol, reposed in unforeseen places, affronting her awareness.
I just swept there.
Deft, jeering silent taunts of stunning, coy, corroded caresses, covert furry physics particles that pestered its presence,
with be-devilled heightened enkindle jarred Jenny’s teetering flask as it spews forth, then abruptly shattered. Scattered.
Stomped, ripped, plugged in and turned on, alas, Jenny hoovered with her Eureka.
Jeri Brown, 2018
Big Daddy Virgil
Carter never met his Dad. Grandma Callie taught Big Daddy all about math, spelling, geography and science.
He was smart beyond his years.
Head smart and handsome.
Like a tall glass of water.
That Clark Gable,
Johnny Hartman kind of handsome.
6 ft. 4 inches tall,
light skinned with shiny straight hair,
he used a pomade to help it lay flat.
Mulatto was how some would describe him.
That’s what they called a person of mixed white and black ancestry, especially a person with one white and one black parent.
A private man,
with a pipe,
He took great care of her when he was able.
Wherever he lived she had a home.
A two-story brick house was always his choice.
Big Daddy brought Callie with him after he settled in St. Louis.
I thought that was neat.
Big Daddy was always tinkering either with the coal furnace in the basement or in some dedicated space wherever we lived
with his electronics books and his television and radio tubes.
He was always repairing something.
He could be working with his soldering iron and lathe in the basement putting metal things back together.
The most brilliant man I’d ever know.
He knew all about money.
How to earn it,
grow it and keep it.
Daddy was tight with his money, too.
Made him seem even mean to most.
But I respected that about my Big Daddy.
Even when Jerry and Sweetie Pie asked…
no, begged for enough to get a truck.
Yeah, he had it.
Eventually, Daddy loaned them the money for that red truck.
I’m not sure if they ever got it back to him, though.
He’d only bring it up at the worst of times.
Like if they needed another loan.
That’s when they really needed Mama’s help.
Daddy was stern, tight and generous.
Illinois Central Railroad until he got the gold watch.
Respected by the union, too.
A porter, and
first black union representative,
it must of been something to see him at a union meeting.
Not just his looks,
but his tone.
An articulated and educated man was the best way to describe him.
He knew what he wanted.
And he knew how to plan,
and keep it, too.
Their love was deeply romantic.
Called her M. A.…. get it!
She didn’t have book smarts.
She couldn’t really read.
She had qualities that softened Daddy’s stern ways right quick.
He didn’t have a chance if she was not happy with him.
“Carter this.” “Carter that.” “You know better, Carter!”
Big Daddy loved Emma.
Jeri Brown, 2016
School teacher from Mississippi. The south. Education system in her day meant she could practically teach anything for a school ager to a young man or woman. Grandma Callie taught till she married and set out to raise Big Daddy in Aberdeen.
It was a big job maintaining Grandma Callie’s
Almost to her waist,
I used to comb,
brush and scrape her scalp.
That hard caked-on dandruff left noticeable
signature flakes on any top that she wore.
Light or dark colors didn’t matter.
She smelled different,
Kind of like a wilting rose.
Sweet but a little tainted.
Hers was the softest light skin,
almost too soft, you know.
Her skin so soft but dry as ash.
She could’ve passed for white.
Big Daddy certainly could.
big boned woman,
but not too fat.
Grandma Callie was stern and direct.
Always needing somebody to wait on her
lotioning her down upon request.
“Hand me my drawers from the dresser drawer, Sweetie.”
Soft silky slips,
panties of white, ivory and pale pink,
she was a very feminine woman.
Jeri Brown, 2016
Big Mama Emma
She’d been born in Mississippi at a time when her twelve sisters and brothers were younger spending most of the time helping to care for them with her mother while her charcoal black, Cherokee Indian dad ran his own smoke meat house and supply store.
She was stern with us,
a wiz in the kitchen,
with a needle and thread,
a master of so much,
she didn’t really teach us girls how to do the cooking.
Her meals could never be topped or duplicated.
Measuring tools were in the cusp of her hands,
kneading the dough.
Molding baked goods was within the strength of her wrist.
She was miles ahead of us
so why bother!
When she wasn’t doing that she’d be sitting at the kitchen table reading scripture.
She’d learned some words in her life and used that to plow through miraculously.
We all taught her a little.
And she wasn’t embarrassed.
Not one bit.
Sundays she’d wear beautiful hats,
furs around her neck,
and lovely dresses and shoes.
She knew just how to whip herself into shape…
into an elegant woman who would sit at the front of the church in the pew next to the pastor’s wife.
Jeri Brown, 2016
Enzee in the Glass Cage
And on that July morning this is how it all started.
One morning Enzee woke up to find himself captive in a glass cage. How he got there we will never know. He was not tortured or sentenced for committing a crime that he could remember. He was simply alone, or so he thought. He was not completely uncomfortable either. He had food, a bed, a sink, lean water and a basin.
Unable to do anything about his circumstances, Enzee was forced to see all that was around him…all that surrounded him for the first time ever.
And in that moment, the cage which had enslaved him, suddenly engaged him. It became his threshold, his port hole, his protector, and his maternal sheltress.
What Enzee was forced to see within the light of day would change him forever. Within his sight, in the light of day were colors and stains and strains of natural light. He saw leaves in rich
shades of green that seemed suddenly vulnerable, and innocent in the light …to the sunlight with delicate, rippling streams of water, and branches trembled from the morning breeze.
So many sprays of colors presented a wash within Enzee’s eye line. A blue sky with spots of white and not so white cirrus clouds in wisps of soft,
feathery colors appeared so close to him now. It was as if he could touch everything with his eyes. It was as if the cage forced him to take the time to see and to witness his environment. When a flock of
brown and orange robins, red cardinals, and blue jays passed by, Enzee immediately ducked his head
for shelter. He was certain they were about to collide on him in his glass cage. So vivid were the colors. How majestic and perfect they appeared as they flew high in the sky. It was a marvel that he had never
seen before. Or had he just never noticed? His reaction was so intense that he fell back on his side. He hid his face. He needed a break from the wonder.
Looking inward in his glass cage on that sunny day, after finally witnessing his environment, the splendor of nature changed Enzee in many ways. For when he tried to turn away from his gaze, he was forced to look at himself. And in that moment the cage, which had provided Enzee with a vision
into his natural surroundings suddenly revealed to him his own identity.
For the first time in a long while Enzee saw himself in that cage. He noticed his long arms, hairy chest, matted hair, torn shirt, scratches on his index finger, scar on his right elbow, and his dull look. He felt his
parched mouth. He heard the cracking of his knuckles.
Upon this discovery of reflection, Enzee made a slight yet deep sigh of relief. He could finally see who he really was. Like a fish in a fishbowl Enzee was exposed to the light, to the world around him. Instead of viewing life as an invader, often attacking and defending and being utterly lonely, Enzee felt vulnerable as he looked from his glass cage. And he felt an uncontrollable urge to cry.
Tears of happiness flowed from his eyes, as he rejoiced in awe of the feeling. A new feeling on a very new day. Now Enzee was ready to truly see his community. A world around him was full of wonder with many special features and many interesting creatures and elements. Everything seemed free to have space. Everything that he saw seemed to be content in their places. Things appeared to move through time and place freely serving and supporting one another. Suddenly two small deer strutted by. A loon flew over, followed by a fuschia colored hummingbird. Just before him on the glass of his cage was a daddylonglegs. It seemed to take an afternoon stretch on the glass near his chin.
Enzee was overwhelmed. That was his cue. These creatures of nature never had significance in the past. Enzee remembered how he usually smashed, squashed, swatted and moved past nature most of his life as if it had no valuable purpose. Now, in his glass cage he was forced to see.In the light
of day he had spent hours noticing the movement, the features of living creatures, of plants. He smiled.
And now he was taking a cue from an arachnid to take a nap. How curious Enzee thought. And how appropriate. “Why not!” he suddenly found himself uttering.
Enzee smiled and felt his whiskers move toward his cheeks for the first time ever. The smile was new to him. He embraced it and his new sights and insights, feeling somehow refreshed and connected to the land. There Enzee felt inner peace. He drifted into a deep sleep. He slept for hours, uninterrupted in his glass cage. It was there that he had the single most restful sleep of his life. A restoration swept over him.
When he woke the cage was gone. He was no longer observing in a vacuum. He was actually back. Now he was one in his environment. Enzee felt the breeze as he touched his skin. He smelled the lilac flowers, and the waft of heather from the plants just to the left of him. He felt the heat of the sun
against his body as he attempted to stand on his big rock. He was home again. This time, no longer lonely,
Enzee felt his sense of community. He welcomed nature around him. He smiled more. And so, he continued his life as peacefully as he could have ever imagined in a world that he now belonged in. And Enzee was never lonely again.
Think of it – a peaceful place for all creatures big and small.
Jeri Brown, 2017
[NEW SHORTS JAN 23, 2020]
by Jeri Brown
In the mountainous part of Giuseppe,
a region of Austrandic alps,
a world with extreme hot and cold,
where hunting is keen,
lived a green-minotaur interloper named Fiefer.
Naked on all fours, wandering through a Germanic forest in 1709,
raised by wolves, Fiefer ate with hooves and couldn’t speak.
Surviving the harsh three feet of snow that covered the bitter cold forest,
Prancing through backyards Fiefer became local lore with sightings,
footage from wildlife cameras set up in the area.
A local celebrity, Fiefer attracted two groups:
those rooting for its survival,
and those determined to shoot and eat it.
Eventually captured, adopted by a naturalist family,
Baby bull Fiefer was treated like a pet.
Living a relatively normal life,
kept in a large cage for safety,
farmers thought they had trained Fiefer successfully,
and gave him privileges at the homestead without leash,
until four months of age when his future changed overnight.
Cows were rounded up and sold after the farm owner died.
To preserve its own safety Fiefer took a chance, trotting into the brush,
boldly racing away, fleeing into the nearby forest.
Into the woods, he was forced to leave his home,
presumably never to be seen by human owners again.
Fiefer’s farm family searched high and low.
No matter how hard they looked Fiefer continued to evade them.
No human was fast enough to catch him.
Years passed and there was still no sign.
Each year a local virgin girl would disappear.
Man-like figure at a whim revealed Fiefer’s transformation,
sexual compulsive animalism as he grew older,
luring innocent females into its lair,
his healthy appetite for the delicacy,
With a pack of wild deer, Fiefer, survived
—eating, sleeping and running together,
making a family all its own in the forest,
clearly knowing it would need human attention,
to mature into a happy minotaur.
One local woman, Hildajan, started to bring food,
water, fresh bedding to Fiefer.
She spent eight months nurturing it in the woods,
continuing to do the right thing,
to do what she felt in her heart.
Hildajan continued to help-out her new bovine friend,
earning his trust, rarely separating,
knowing challenges of leaving the woods,
Their new friendship astounded everyone.
Fiefer truly loved her and spared her life.
After eight years Jeremiah was born.
Surprised at first that they could create a calf-human,
Hildajan took care to nurture her new little calf,
a bit hairy with odd-shaped hands and stubby mane,
oddly resembling a human baby,
Something wasn’t quite right with Fiefer.
One day, he passed out, dead.
after stirring in circles on the kitchen floor,
Frantic Hildajan knew nothing would make up for her loss.
She would always have her beloved in her heart.
Jeri Brown, 2019
Zola and the Sirens : Jan 23, 2020
by Jeri Brown
In a timeless place on the small Zina island up north lay Zola,
a large lake near Nova Scotia coastal shore,
three siren sisters took the form of mermaids,
beautiful humans above the waist,
fish below with human head and arm.
Surrounded by an elongated sheet of shallow water a mile long,
the wide island gently curved a dune of fine white sand.
During the season smooth sand lilies between the bay and the lake.
Strange bulbs buried in the sand sent up thick green leaves,
white flowers resembling a glacier blossoming at early night fall on
Sea-witch Mereminum, cold hearted femme fatale motivated by lust,
earthly pleasure and vain pursuits, touched hearts in melodiously sweet songs,
lured enchanted ignorant sailors, sea-travelers,
lulled asleep with her harmony and pleasing blandishment,
beguiled, devoured by her.
An easily angered immortal gorgon,
long strands of hair of venomous snakes appeared.
When love relationship soured, killing her shepherd lover,
ashamed and insane, Mere jumped into the ocean,
took the form of a fish resorting to evil, violent ways.
Thessa and Water, equally beautiful water spirited priestesses of the night,
brought redemption, wealth and good fortune to those favored through music,
Exotic sweet peaceful powerful melodies and rhythms
surrounded them of African and European instruments
as they straddled both land and water giving serenity to ignorant sailors.
Instead of drowning in their tears and the open-sea,
grief-stricken after the death of their King Enzee,
under watchful eyes on mariners across the seven seas they allowed safe passage,
only rarely did they transform into raging gorgons to cast their raft,
turning some to stone.
The stern reaches its maximum height,
as it strikes the broad breast of a small fisherman’s paddle boat,
lifting up into the air and dropping down again in one thump.
Tiny ripples speed over the moonlit sea and breathe with relief,
as the men reach the shore at last.
Sailors do not notice the effect the wash has had for some time
The noise of their engine drowns frantic calls of help
from the small boat that floats near them.
Once the men set their anchor against the sand they stand knee deep,
scowling down into transparent waters as shoals of fish flick around their feet.
Jeri Brown, 2019