Three Poems from BROTHER | The New Engagement

Photo by Mike Reisenauer

Three Poems from BROTHER

By Mike Reisenauer



Look: up from your phone

over the cubicle wall

through windbent branches: Another tower

tilts toward a morning

coming tumbling down the mountain.

A cursor drags a file across a screen

and drops it in the

trash. Crinkle. A wrench

leaned into with the weight of a brotherhood slips off a stripped bolt with a groaning

epiphany. That long broke finger

wags at indifferent heavens, and you and me we just

sit there and kind of half watch it.


The beginnings of a bike shop

on the other side of a building permit

taped to the window of the former United Auto Workers hall.

Inside, a silent table saw

sits among a collection of scraps of wood

saved by a mindful craftsman. I aim

the phone inward, see my reflecting

on the screen. Behind it, a fence that holds a mess in.

Before it, the remnants of a day’s handiwork.

Then you. Head down walking

passed behind in front of me on

your way forward perhaps I tap

the glass and we are pressed together

stuck between these layers

somewhere in the middle

of it all. Can I call you brother?



A satellite falls around the earth, snapping pictures of a bear in twilight. The ghostly scavenger slips its long tongue between the bark of a fallen tree. A honeybee zims by with no reason to sting at this late hour in life. They say the Chinese know the secret to a long life: Exercise, tea, a robust social life extending into their later years. The life expectancy of an American varies by gender, race, occupation, genetics, and access to healthcare, but averages out to 78.1 years or 684,156 hours. Of these, you might spend 6 minutes 31 seconds watching “Top Ten Ali Knockouts”, or you can watch the entire “Rumble in the Jungle” (which takes one hour and five minutes) and see Ali, heckling and taunting, let Foreman press his body from rope to rope, corner to corner, for eight rounds, until Ali sends the younger Foreman tilting into the mat. Humiliated, Foreman wouldn’t box for another ten years, but would come back and become the oldest heavyweight champ at age 45. In 1996, he would help Ali twitch and shake his way up Hollywood’s white steps to receive an Oscar. The average lifespan of a white-headed eagle is 175,316 hours. Your iPhone can last five hours and 50 minutes without recharging. The 85 cents worth of gold in it will probably live forever in one state or another. Give the engine regular maintenance, make sure the passengers are well fed and the borders affectionately tended, and a country can make it for a while. In 1983, Ali posed with President Reagan, who held a clenched fist to Ali’s happy, retired cheek. Right now, at the age of 73, Ali sits on the edge of his bed in Scottsdale, Arizona, the sun setting over nearby Pinnacle Peak. “Everything America should be, Muhammad Ali is,” Foreman said.



and so I stand

from the wrecked bed

of a handheld century

draw heavy curtains from smeary glass

and squint into the shifting pitch

where towers tilt beneath an apathetic moon

getting bent into shape

by the shadow of the earth.

Somewhere, a wet foal

slips and stutters onto

its legs a woman straightens

at his desk. It is still very dark out

but there is a morning quality

to this darkness and so I


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