Alan Britt








(For our veterans, past and present. Note: The suicide rate

for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is over 8,000 a year.)


These high school kids,

uneducated to the ways of the world,

ignorant of civics

as it exists in their midst,

are easy marks

to send to Iraq, Vietnam,

or any other crazy war.


These pliable, capitalist chunks

of clay, snoring through history classes,

these naïve boys and girls

exchanging photographs of mothers, wives, girlfriends

and flaunting their GED’s as shields deflecting

shrapnel from IED’s.




Not enough protection on this fragile planet,

a GED versus irritable Mt. Saint Helens,

a GED filtering brutal Florida sunlight

through the burnt visor of a ‘54 VW

sans fuel gauge with that extra gallon

tucked away for emergencies.




Anyway, these poor American boys and girls

crammed shoulder to shoulder

in vinyl-plated Humvees

like cattle

forced down long, narrow chutes,

only to be packaged

hours later

as New York strip,


filet mignon,

or whatever’s the special, tonight,

at the Emperor’s favorite, The Prime Rib.


These high school kids,

future mothers and fathers who do as we say,

not as we do,

these uniformed, uninformed kids faithful

to the core

and blind to civics

as it exists in their midst,

are easy marks

to send to Iraq, Vietnam,

or any other crazy war.





(After Graham Nash)


Soldier, naive as he is brave, first combat day

seeks comfort & salvation, the answer in a

church: Winchester Cathedral has all the grace

of a funeral home, what with placing flowers

before cobwebs over the faces of the saints

& Messiah groaning beneath the best we can do

under the circumstances, but otherwise repulsive,

so the disillusioned soldier at wits end explodes

concrete doors off his favorite myth, only to

end up where he started: battlefield glittered

with illusions.






Blue jay creaks a corroded porch swing.


Future’s fingertips like bristling transients

camped along the London Tube.


Angelic orders of freshly laundered aspirations

slapped by the rusty hinge of a Southern wind

& tossed from the yellow stripes of a deep sea dolphin,

head exceeding evolution,

before vaporizing into a Matisse afterthought.


Man with a cane too long to steady his aim taps

windows with its dented, secured by a brass tip,

upsetting au pairs dumping steaming tomato

& basil from copper saucepans onto pasta al dente.


Banana fronds for eyelids, Red Cross helicopters

like dragonflies hovering the paddies

flattening jade salvation

into grey hairs sallowing cheekbones,

until a hand is a torch,

an oily rag lit by grief,

a hand a torch,

typhoons like fists,

a hand a torch,

napalm compressed like a diamond

& leaking from black & white eyes

of Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley

& that sister from Des Moines who lost

her baby brother

to a booby trap of congressional lies,

a hand a torch,

not a pig in a Geico commercial

but a real live stinging nettles

& gypsy lifeline creases in the palm torch.





(If Democracy was such a good experiment,

 How come we’re in this mess?

 Ah, yes, Capitalism, that diseased strand

 of DNA…greed, greed, greed!)

–Michelangelo Felipo Santiago


Follow the bomb; follow the bomb;

follow the money & you’ll find the bomb.


Follow the bomb & you’ll find the money.


Follow self-worth, follow anything,

so long as you don’t follow the bomb.


Follow egret nests in leafless mangroves

off the coast of St. Croix,

straw akin to the Three Little Pigs’ first shack,

which is the only bomb shelter

most of us can afford.


Follow what you see, taste & feel,

then douse it with a healthy dose

of individuality. Follow, follow,

follow until you’re exhausted

from following. & after you’ve

commenced with mercy faith,

after you’re blistered & mortgaging

house #3, plus wife who knows what

& kids running all over the place,

step off the grimy, rain-soaked curb

naked as a proverbial jaybird

& proclaim that totally in the dark

citizens of the USA won’t keep you

from clanging the bells of freedom

high above satellites tattooing

a planet called earth.






Uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites

toast their hands beneath every New Age dryer

in every Cracker Barrel men’s room.


Aluminum handle devastates.


Corkboard’s lonely thumbtacks journey

from smile to gloom for one semester

while G or drunken A waltzes around

the pool naked as god intended, sifting

toes beneath the sands of San Paolo

the moment a Berkeley poet keels over granite

kitchen isle while slicing August tomatoes,

cukes & yellow peppers to make the Redcoats


just the same.


↓   ↓   ↓   ↓   ↓   ↓   ↓   ↓   ↓   ↓   ↓


Guitar notes like dirty egrets off Fort Myers,

heat lightning, notes like ochre extracted

from Gilas & transferred through electric

fingertips bleating like lambs at slaughter,

16 paces before the Tyger says, I’m worth

every dime & so are you, that said, that said,

that bled, that bled.


유 + 웃 = ❤ ✈ ♋ 웃 유 ☠ ☯


They used pitchforks for guitars;

each tong sharpened

into laser point, at which point

the designated harmonica

became a Thomson’s gazelle,

spindly creature, cinnamon back,

shoe polish tears & cotton belly,

suddenly decides to be a harmonica,

today, since no one, as Federico

lamented not so very long ago,

wanted to be a harmonica!


☮ ☮ ☮ ☮☮ ☮ ☮ ☮☮ ☮ ☮


Yet, there it is.





(…my heart revolves like a crazy wheel.)

–Pablo Neruda


My heart revolves like a blue steel chamber,

rounds missing have been planted

& watered with Blake’s tears, ones

surviving are the unlucky few, bodies cut

from propaganda photographs, begging

change beneath collapsed cardboard boxes.


But you, cloudless girl, question of smoke, seize

survivors by their roots, hang ’em by

bunches from your fist, trembling fist

of honor & swear to Christ that nobody

sleeps until the last surviving one is hunted

down & strangled on a polite Harvest Moon

with cameras rolling & Sheila MacVicker

reporting live from downtown Baghdad.






Orphaned by a 50 caliber rifle.


Armless, legless,

torso missing.


50 caliber thoughts overwhelm

one’s sense of decency.


Armless, legless,

torso missing.


50 caliber CEO’s unlatch briefcases

filled with worthless stocks and bonds.


50 caliber governments

draw the line

when it comes to global embarrassment.


The 100 senators see what’s coming

and dodge bullets

from a small caliber

hidden beneath the stockings

of crazed soccer moms,

of Walmart cashiers,

of teachers and professors of cool, clear water,

of dogs, even,

our primordial slaves of love.


50 caliber planets,

from which aliens sometimes descend

but prudently keep their distance.


Do you have 50 caliber thoughts?


Or are you one of the lucky ones?





(For Sabina Guzzanti)


One universal truth about angels

is you don’t want ‘em in the bathroom

when you’re taking a dump.


In early days, pre-Modernists days,

angels spied;

they were the original secret police.


So you don’t want ‘em

when you’re picking at things

that need picking.


You don’t want ‘em circling your tool shed,

riding thermals during elections

or orchestrating prison breaks

in the middle of the Mojave.


One universal truth about angels

is they stray; that’s right—

stray, just when you least expect them

to…they stray . . . stray to other gods,

god-forsaken religions

(though all religions seem to have gods).


Makes ‘em double agent angels.


Makes you wonder what would happen

if humanity awoke one morning

without angels………………………………………..




With luck some angels’ll tumble over cliffs

along with Saint Joseph’s wampum

& bloodshot Harlem dice

splintering brownstones built

six generations ago by slaves

before erecting Viet Nam Memorials

to remind us what we’re willing to wager

so long as the price is right.






I arrive prepared

for the Perry Mason trial

as 38-caliber rounds

splinter a Chicago restaurant

off Lake Shore Boulevard—

sad, snub-nosed 38-caliber rounds

designed to disgrace

Italian immigrants.


Eyes tumble through rings of Saturn,

the unstable rings of our DNA.


But rings don’t exist outside our DNA;

it’s all just a ruse.


Those DNA rings have been wobbling;

so how does that affect myths still hugging

the gravitational fields of our insatiable egos,

myths with flashing teeth

fully prepared

to sever the bean stalk

balancing popes, presidents

or Middle East Chieftains,

if you prefer,

camping beneath the stars,

kneeling with camels,

feeling the rush of victory?












Alan Britt served as judge for the 2013 The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award. He read poetry and presented the “Modern Trends in U.S. Poetry” at the VII International Writers’ Festival in Val-David, Canada, May 2013. Sponsored by LaRuche Arts Contemporary Consortium (LRACC) he read poetry at the Union City Museum of Art/William V. Musto Cultural Center in Union City, NJ in May, 2014. His interview at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem ( aired on Pacifica Radio, January 2013. His latest books are Parabola Dreams (with Silvia Scheibli): 2013 and Alone with the Terrible Universe: 2011. He teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.

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