poems as hand- and foot-holds on a glass mountain

Island Walkers

Resolved to sit here and stir the stew

of experience until I can see time

which otherwise like the aether might not be real,

I switch off the lamp, a fake Bodhi tree

hovering over me withholding fake enlightenment


Darkness seems neither an addition

nor a diversion, and like closing your eyes

doesn’t make disgusting stuff go away:

the Afghan poppy trade, radical income inequality,

Butte MT, lite beer, Twitter


Hours pass, or what passes for hours

now sunlight filtered through tons more CO2

than yesterday replaces inky moon-glow

like Descartes I look for what is constant

cannot be wished away, thought away, imagined away

while barbed wire weeds spring up in fields plowed by artillery

then cleverly replanted with land mines

but war’s a party and here’s only you and me

on poetry’s rebel island

walking its disappearing footpaths

not a tour but a series of suggestions

of which much or little can be made


The island’s trees contribute

on an opposite wall in a small room

wood panels are striped by grain

by layers of yearly growth opened flattened with their centers

showing a trunk or branch ending then growing beyond itself

a stubby end like a fire-hardened spear point

surpassed each year by the next

records a flow hinting of influx

the vital interior to interior contact

sometimes called intuition or revelation

much discredited in our age of empiricists

to whom other ‘ knowings’ are mist in Plato’s eye

too much wine with too many adolescent boys,

or overheated passions sublimated by celibates

like Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross

‘If there are no other ways to truth then what is truth?’


White-coated knowers of insects, galaxies, subatomic particles

and paranoid schizophrenia shake heads apparently theirs and walk away

secretly lusting after the most radical of thoughts:

there is no truth, only an endless series of stories, all fictions

a thought that destroys itself and its thinker

for beneath it is disbelief

and the underside of any and all thought is belief

an inalienable link to the body and the world

in supposition, affection and convention


“The Truth comes riding with a stranger,”

reads a sign on the side of a bullet train

speeding past as we walk the trackless fields of the island

so persistently loud the train’s roar becomes silence

so fast its color changes, becoming indeterminate


Reading the sign a walker thinks the letters must be printed

each on a separate car widely spaced

as the message floats steady as on a flagstaff

the windows of the train are mostly invisible

like the spokes of a moving bicycle’s wheels

blurring then seeming to stall and reverse flow

once he sees himself there, a traveler his current age

then in another a decade younger

and another until as a small child he waves to himself

as an island walker


4 Responses to “Island Walkers”

  1. burlwhitman

    This is powerful, centered and beautiful:

    “the underside of any and all thought is belief / an inalienable link to the body and the world ”

    and “poetry’s rebel island.’

    Just grand.

  2. pakistani Suits Dubai

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. There’s
    no doubt that that you need to write more about this subject, it may not be a taboo matter
    but typically folks don’t talk about these issues. To the next!
    Best wishes!!

    • place9011

      Thanks for your thoughtful reading and response. I have written more on these topics, and have sent those poems to publishers. Meanwhile you can find other poems of mine at The Camel Saloon (search there for Donald Brandis poems) and at Amazon (search there for Don Brandis poems).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: