The Gossamer Nature of Random Things: A First Collection of Poems

The Gossamer Nature of Random Things: A First Collection of Poems

by Howard Brown

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The Gossamer Nature of Random Things presents a collection of introspective poems composed over a twenty-eight year period by writer and poet Howard Brown. These poems are based on the random observations and internal reflections of the author on a wide range of topics: from encounters with interesting people, to special places he has visited, to the unique


The Gossamer Nature of Random Things presents a collection of introspective poems composed over a twenty-eight year period by writer and poet Howard Brown. These poems are based on the random observations and internal reflections of the author on a wide range of topics: from encounters with interesting people, to special places he has visited, to the unique nature of the moon and its cycles.

His poems reflect upon everyday joys and sorrows— whether chronicling an enjoyable afternoon at his daughter’s house listening to his grandchildren at play in “Alicia’s Backyard,” or musing in “Ghost” over the futility of trying to hold on to the past. The Gossamer Nature of Random Things provides an intimate look into the life and emotions of one man—a sort of personal journal in verse form.


Sheltered by a neon sky,
the mountain, a collage
of red, green and gold,
the magic of the landscape
enhanced by its own
inherent transience.

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The Gossamer Nature of Random Things

A First Collection of Poems
By Howard Brown

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Howard Brown
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4759-5217-9

Chapter One

    Rainy Day on the

    Once again, the mountain is shrouded in fog.
    Rain has fallen for days, an incessant downpour
    which shows no sign of passing.

    To the west,
    a murder of crows waddle noisily
    across the verdant expanse of the Commons.

    Beneath the table,
    the dog is curled at my feet,
    drowsing contentedly in the midday gloom.

    Across the room,
    atop the worn back of an easy chair,
    the cat has found his place of silent repose.

    The red light on my cell phone winks—

    A message
    from beyond this place
    of rain and fog,
    of talking crows,
    aging dogs,
    and Delphic cats.


    Alicia's Backyard

    Sitting placidly in my daughter's backyard,
    a place of refuge,
    where one can escape the wind
    and bask in the failing warmth
    of the October sun.

    I close my eyes
    and listen to the afternoon cries
    of the children at play:
    laughter one moment,
    agony the next.

    Simple things, to be sure,
    but life is fleeting—
    take your pleasure
    where you find it.


    Wolf River

    Listen to the silence,
    the palpable absence of sound
    which pervades the low ground along the river.

    And in that moment of solitude, dream—

    Of the whisper of bird wing on air,
    the almost imperceptible scrape of scale and claw on sand
    as the runners quit their places beneath the bridge
    and, one by one, slip away into the forest.

    Watch them move with a singleness of purpose
    through a labyrinth, whose winding passages
    are defined by sycamore, cypress, willow and gum.

    Toward what do they move?

    Perhaps to that secret place deep within the wood
    where muscadines hang fragrant upon the vine,
    and the sun filters down through the trees to spill golden
    upon honeysuckle, jewel weed, sumac and fern.

    Then, in a quickening moment, they have come and gone,
    their passage marked only by a breach in the spider's web
    and the frantic motes which dance in the luminous air.

    In the distance, I hear them calling:
    On, on, they cry, on, on.

    And, as their voices fade and merge with the locusts' whir,
    I realize that my question has been answered;
    I need ask no more.


    Winter Sunday

    Beyond the crystalline panes of the cathedral windows,
    the leafless elms trace a tangled pattern
    across a dark and lowering sky.

    Wrapped in purple vestments, the priest stands before the altar
    and recites a spiritual nostrum.

    My attention drifts,
    as he makes the sign of the cross,
    a holy talisman to protect us from evil.

    Then, as if waking from a dream,
    I hear those about me softly chanting:

    et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo.

    And, as their voices float down the length of this holy place,
    I murmur, sotto voce:

    Save us not from the snares of Satan, Lord,
    save us from ourselves.


    Driving Up the Mountain

    Driving up the mountain,
    the sun dappling the blacktop
    where it breeches the forest canopy.

    The air cool and brisk,
    your mind
    clear as a sounding bell.

    Above it all,
    a bone-white moon
    perched high
    in the midday sky.


    Walking to the Post Office

    Walking up the street
    to the post office.

    The sky is blue,
    the sun shining.

    Manuscript in hand,
    I try to think positive.

    After all,
    I tell myself,

    There was a time
    when Faulkner
    walked up the street
    to the post office too.


    View from the Foot
    of the Grove

    High atop a granite pedestal
    at the foot of the grove,
    the Colonel stands
    in stony silence.

    Hand raised to shade his eyes
    from the winter sun,
    he peers to the east
    down University Avenue.

    In vain, he searches
    for the comrades,
    (long since gone to dust)
    with whom he marched away.

    Poised, vigilant, he waits;
    waits for the bugles to sound,
    the cannon to roar,
    the vanquished to rise.

    But what of the rest,
    the nameless ones
    for whom there was
    no such noble cause,

    Those for whom no monuments stand
    as tangible reminders
    that they have come and gone
    and will come no more?

    Who waits,
    who remembers,
    who heralds their passage?


    Rogue River

    As the fog began to lift,
    you could look down the flat, black surface of the river,
    beyond the patina of evergreens
    which cover the sides of the mountains,
    to a point in the distance
    where the opposing ridges tumble
    to the bottom of the canyon.

    And, at that precise juncture of granite and water,
    a shaft of sunlight broke through the clouds,
    transforming the air just above the river
    into a sort of golden ether,

    So that one might well imagine
    that everything in life which had gone before
    was leading, inexorably, to this precise moment,
    and whatever else might follow
    could not really matter.


    On the Porch

    From your chair, look—

    at the ferns
    which fill the planters
    on the edge of the porch,
    how their fronds
    move in the breeze;

    the canopy
    of the towering oaks
    which stand
    in the yard;

    the couple
    strolling lazily
    up the street,
    behind their panting dog.

    Then listen—

    to the discordant notes
    of the tree frog;

    the mournful coo
    of a rock dove;

    the moan of a train whistle
    a mile to the south;

    a car door slamming
    somewhere down the block;

    Look, listen,
    absorb it all;
    this is the marrow of life.


    Early Morning, Lookout

    Floating toward daybreak,
    fog envelops me
    like a dream.

    Time slows,
    sound is muffled,
    light distorted.

    How can I put it—
    like reality viewed
    through a piece of gauze?


    Pebble Creek

    Remembering the mottled carpet
    of browning grass and grey-green sage
    which cover the meadow floor;

    the curving sweep of the stream
    that parts its surface end to end;

    the crumbling, volcanic slopes
    of the mountains which rise beyond,
    their ridges dark silhouettes on the horizon;

    the endless expanse of cerulean sky,
    broken only by a single column of towering cumulus;

    you understand that these words
    will never quite capture
    the sacred nature of this untamed place.


    Dog Days

    the dog days
    of summer
    are upon us.

    The heat,
    a demonic presence
    dancing out of
    a fevered dream;

    the languorous air
    so still, so passive,
    its abiding torpor
    almost visible;

    the incessant
    ringing of the cicadas,
    a pervasive presence
    which paints the backdrop

    for the tenuous
    sense of calm
    which overlies
    the breathless afternoon.

    While far to the west,
    clouds billow on the horizon,
    their bellies purple
    with a false promise of rain.

    Such are the dog days
    of summer,
    such are the dog days
    of the soul.


    Christmas Day

    Snow has been falling
    since before first light,
    enormous, wet flakes
    that dance in the wind
    as they float to earth
    from a pewter sky.

    Beyond the window,
    a smudge of scarlet
    settles in the crepe myrtle,
    positioning himself
    for a pass at the feeders
    which hang nearby.

    And all the while,
    I sit by the hearth,
    listening to Stravinsky,
    dreaming of spring.



    Sheltered by a neon sky,
    the mountain, a collage
    of red, green and gold,
    the magic of the landscape
    enhanced by its own
    inherent transience.


    Better Days

    Watching him
    through the window of the car
    on this cold December Sunday,
    I remember better days.

    Days when his eyes
    had the spark of the sun
    on moving water.

    Days when his hands
    would flutter before his face
    as he spoke,
    like a covey of rising quail.

    But now
    he is nothing more
    than a tired old man,

    Who stands beside
    a clap-board house,
    chopping kindling
    in the drizzling rain.


    The Scars She Bore

    Like most everyone else,
    she'd seen her share
    of hard times,

    yet, somehow,
    had always managed to survive,
    outdistancing whatever adversity
    happened to come her way.

    And, amazingly,
    the evidence of her battles
    was nowhere to be seen
    upon her face.

    Beyond question,
    she was still
    a strikingly beautiful woman,
    the pure essence of style and grace.

    So, only the very few
    she ever allowed
    to get close enough
    to glimpse what lay inside,

    could begin to fathom
    the tell-tale scars she bore
    upon her heart.


    Standing in Line

    It was like this:
    I was standing
    in the checkout line
    at the library.

    The wait was really long
    and as I stood there
    looking at all the people
    behind me,

    I kept wondering
    how so many geeks
    could congregate in one place
    at the same time.

    Then I saw
    this really flakey-looking guy,
    back toward the end of the line,
    staring in my direction,

    And I began to wonder
    exactly what conclusions
    he might have reached
    about me.


    The Enigma of Friendship

    Like love, friendship is,
    in the end,
    a matter of the heart.

    No expectations, no demands,
    beyond a knowing smile
    and a willingness, not only to listen,
    but always to understand.

    Springing from nothing,
    moving toward nothing,
    it is, simply, what it is,
    nothing more, nothing less.

    Yet only those for whom
    it is a reality can actually
    define it, can truly say,
    we know.


    On Being a Gulley

    There were worse things than being a Gulley.

    You could have been a Turpin,
    living out your life in ignorance and poverty
    in a two-room shack on the edge of town,
    cutting a little pulp wood now and then,
    but never earning more in a week
    than you could blow in a single Saturday night
    drinking cheap whiskey and eating fried fish
    in some piney woods juke-joint.

    Or you could have been a Tull,
    living likewise in ignorance and poverty
    but lacking the mental acuity
    to understand the essence of either;
    too slovenly to work
    and too much an outcast
    to eat fish or drink whiskey
    with anyone outside your own kin,
    even if you had the money to do so.

    Yes, there were worse things
    than being a Gulley,
    but being a Gulley was bad enough,
    for, in all likelihood,
    though you would have been
    neither ignorant nor poor
    and could pretty much
    move in society as you pleased,
    to us you would still have been white trash
    just the same.


    Her Number

    To have someone's number
    was a casual expression,
    something you heard
    from time to time
    but simply as metaphor,
    a clever way of saying
    you had a fix on someone.

    Never once had he
    considered the possibility
    that each person
    might actually have
    a specific number
    that was more or less
    unique to them,

    Until one day
    he found himself
    writing the figure,
    eight million, one hundred
    fifty-one thousand,
    nine hundred forty-four,
    across a sheet of paper.

    And then,
    as he stared blankly
    at what he'd written,
    he understood
    that not only
    does each person
    have a number,
    but this one was hers.


    Her Heart Could
    Not Be Still

    Like a tiny bird
    flitting about
    in the privet hedge,
    her heart could not be still.

    Each time she landed,
    we wondered
    if this was the place
    she'd finally choose to stay.

    But, inevitably,
    a moment would come
    when she'd sound
    a single, tremulous note—
    which was goodbye—
    and then she'd fly away.



Excerpted from The Gossamer Nature of Random Things by Howard Brown Copyright © 2012 by Howard Brown. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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