Bryan D. Price

Self-loathing is the point

that is what I would have told him if we spoke (or were still speaking)

I don’t ask why but I know it to be true despite the need for doctors

and mystics despite the need for the power of positive thinking what

voice is that are you speaking in tongues or doing a bit or superimposing

a truer self or soul I am reminded here of epistemology—of trying to

be your beautiful actor your genuflecting pig blindfolded and staked to the

earth your self-contained vessel of putrid annoyance it has been twelve

minutes since I have thought about the future if I had a son I would

tell him that no matter what has been uttered by other witches or prelates

the self-loathing was the point


this is not about cognitive decline or
our life together held in place with safety pins
I am driving again and reading Robert Graves
found a volume of his myths in a Santa Maria bookstore
the pages dead leaf yellow and as cold as the day
before the paroxysm—you sprayed me down
black out drunk on the fire escape my psyche
held together between your thumb and blue forefinger
and now thought of as an astral projection or
a separate piece of history: a person who could have been
a sea captain or sister to the son of his old age

To render pain in animals

use small words as bitten down as seeds
look deep into the eye past the
sockets past the realm of the immutable
it’s like vocalizing the sound of cicadas
waited for you near a fence in western PA
a deer came out of the cemetery and then
another and another the humming was like
the dead sound before a lightning storm
bathe ritualistically (only once or twice)
court suffering and death ask to be
sacrificed the wound is peace to open the
border is to open the skin the rotted peach
had becalmed my spirit do not waste the
command to go forth and reciprocate
the peach was unripe and the floors were just
old boards I took the staples out like any
other superfluity slept in strange positions
gave into breathing (not meditating) just
gesturing toward life and persisting—get
out your watercolor paper and draw a straight
edge do it over and over again in pen in pencil
in scissor and vulture feather keep doing
so until you have made sense of the brutality

From the melting permafrost

this may be a final transmission or
second-to-last gasp maybe a cry for help an
accounting of everything I’ve seen up until
yesterday there is a lot to process right now
some things are too frightening to comprehend
like a wormhole into the past
have you ever been to Wilmington to Nauvoo
or Torrington to Alton where the last printing
press was shot into the earth’s sky like a satellite
it’s part of the trash nebula now there is
nothing romantic about finding water on the moon
but it may one day queer our grip on reality
Mike Davis critiqued Brecht for having never
set foot in a Wilmington bar and yet
here we are naturalizing the specter of a melancholy
wounding the seminal slaughter of ideals
thought good enough to colonize all aspects of
our institutional memory right down to the number
of bubbles in a bar of soap there will be calls for
blood and vengeance calls to reverse being
stabbed in the back—men out here from the
panhandle using semaphores and tongue-talkers
to engineer our demise my grandfather was a
ham radio enthusiast and my other grandfather
was a horse-breaker is there no room for me
now on this eerie plane of existence
the end will be cold and nomadic…the cultists
call down (from the afterlife) to say that
sleep is better than the talking cure…
if we could behave like ghosts I’d take the beanpot
back into the field to collect pine nuts again
vanishing into the purple hands of my mother’s
mother neither wading nor not wading into the
notion of an emerging insect world

Bryan D. Price’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in DMQ Review, Rhino Poetry, Pioneertown, and elsewhere. He lives in San Diego, California with his wife, a dog, and a cat named for Pina Bausch.
This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged , , by Posit Editor. Bookmark the permalink.

About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.