Brian Henry

I smell a brain tumor coming on.

Dodgeball our lost resort

when the handcuffs click into place,

the barrel pressed against the spine

is silenced.


Yawn yourself to sleep

& don’t forget to cry [weep!]

We don’t want your stuff,

we have more than plenty [enough!]


The body translucent, the innards on show.

Such hoopla for a what,

you greedy fuck. Desist!

There is no mail for you today.


The toilet is looking good today.

It’ll receive nothing today.

Swallowing carpet fuzz is no cure.

Nor is the one-eighth drill bit, champ.

How many times can an ankle sprain.

You can’t box w/your thumbs up.

Something is always hurting bad.

It goes unseen for good.

What doesn’t kill you makes you sicker.

Your own private disaster to mull.

How many times can an ankle scream.

He takes half-n-half with his brandy.

Where is the liver, anyway.


Someone glued his cock to his keyboard

to force a choice b/w implements.

He has suppressed the tonsil incident

(out of fear of) (for) (the Tooth Fairy).


The wasp in the attic is violent-

ly looking for the wasp he cut in half.

He’ll spray it before it finds.

To set up a perimeter or continue this ad hoc?


Only a stone doesn’t spurt when crushed.

The paper says not to step outside today

“unless you want to end up on the wrong side

of an angry swarm.”


The VCR goes after the soaps

with a vengeance.

Arkitekt [Through a Glass Darkly]

Whose pain will clarify the coastline

or some other moving thing?

A common despair, as easily caught as a cold,

answers nothing, as all must suspend what’s inside

for what depends. The rain is its own loving

gesture. Empty. A horn answers

the lighthouse’s call in a tongue feared by birds.

That ship will not founder here.

And where is the god in this? in the wall,

the wallpaper’s tear, the nets pulled in

at sunrise, the derelict boat leaning into

the water? Climb below, pull the ladder down,

& suffer your way toward.

No Fishing

Culvert & creek-


where leaf-
fall & twigs

spill into cause-

cluster & clump

until a heavy rain’s weight-
y inertia

unclogs to shape a route

rut a detour
via compost & clover


The honey ant’s fluid motions
go fuzzy


cigarette butt
cigarette butt


Some kind of pod split


The pond’s turtles drop
in succession
from their spots
treefall & log
smallest to oldest
when the human stops
to watch & hear
here at this break
in shorebrush
where what’s audible
becomes visible



What is still
for now
on the surface
teems beneath

& when the surface

a heron crossing
from edge to edge

the underneath goes still
before it scatters

Click here to read an interview with Brian Henry.

Brian Henry is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Stripping Point (Counterpath, 2007) and Quarantine (Ahsahta, 2006). His translation of the Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun’s book Woods and Chalices will appear from Harcourt in April 2008. He has co-edited Verse since 1995, and he co-edited The Verse Book of Interviews (Verse Press, 2005). His criticism has appeared in numerous publications around the world, including The New York Times Book Review, Times Literary Supplement, Jacket, Boston Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. He lives in Richmond, Virginia and teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Richmond.