Lee Ann Brown

WORKING NOTE  by Lee Ann Brown

These poems represent a range of compositional strategies, spanning between being caught in the Steele Eye of a song, to overhearing (antennas tweaked), and simply transcribing what 'others' say around the her, who is me. She, who is hunter gatherer, who does hunt and peck then a hug around your neck. Basically, I pay attention to my scribble and stay up late putting it all together. I sing more now when I remember how good it feels. I wish people would sing together more, even poems of their own devising. Expecially the scribbled ones in fragment not to throw away.


Six Poems:

Ballad fragment

Campion Cento

How Glad

Coronary Decades to Crown Heights

3 Rings

The Words of Love




(o death)

loved one’s
   loved ones


we laughed


        all we can do is
        hold them
  like I held
           wanted to be
do not desert
    us life not yet
we have to hold the other
on to us the living
     let go




Author of light

Break now my heart

Our pleasure sleeps

This place I remember




                            Amazing sentences from Mother’s Letters

For the time being, the doll is in the freezer but that will not solve the problem forever. When I got the house all decorated with dogwood branches which I had forced plus camellias and put the Ukrainian eggs you gave me on my popcorn dogwood branches, we were all ready for company. If you are acquainted with any nutritional "health nuts" who have some new suggestions, please send them. I served slaw & Herlocker’s Barbeque heated in the special sauce which Bob had gotten on Highway 29. At one point he turned several summer salts on the floor while he continued to play the instrument which is curved in shape. This past week I went to the Black Forest Book Store where I asked the owner to help me find a book that would be especially good for Esther Massey Prince’s grandchildren (when their mother dies of a brain tumor) which may be soon. We were amazed to see that the children’s choir was made up of nine Hmong children plus 6 American blondes. Whoever has the most pennies in the jar has to kiss a cow (perhaps a calf) on December 10th. She told him that she was going to Washington to see the Dutch artist’s exhibit with "someone else." I cooked thin lean porkchops.




Five days later
   We’re still having fun
Cracking open the bow ties
   Of the chefs of metropolis
Eating whole plateaus
  Mirrored in your eyes
White reflective jackets

Pouncing escalators
   of Moma’s undulating,
Frank stairwells
   Chrome cigar gardens
lit by C notes
    modern seers
pluck the electric cacti
of fur coats
in line
thanks for the
jump start
cut up
nervous taxi
my heart: Frank is the better part of
your heart poetry?

Red dot on my forehead:
married to poetry
more like a neglected lover
Or one I save up for —
Express the F stop — I’m reading to Queens
your poetry beside Anne Bradstreet’s
to my dear and loving husband
which Harry Diaz read and
2 lines of
so I’ll bring the whole thing
to him to class
to read and
to enjoy tomorrow





Once I had a garnet ring
                           garnet ring
                           garnet ring
Set in a thin gold band     garnet ring

My father gave it me
But it was not to be

For I broke it with a twig underneath
I broke it with a twig underneath

Then my mother gave to me
                                    gave to me
                                    gave to me
A silver dogwood ring
                                   from a tree

It has petals four
I’ll wear forevermore
On my right hand
for all to see


The love I thought was true
                                    Ne’er gave me
                                    Ne’er gave me
A ring of earth nor sea
                  Earth nor sea

Instead he gave to me
Three things I cannot see
And they ring inside of me
                                     O my soul
                                     O my soul
They Sing inside of me
O my soul

(Sing to hymn tune: "What Wondrous Love is This?")





         "I thank the world it will anoint me
         If I show it how I hold it"

                                                            — Will Oldham

               I pledge allegiance to the lamb
               And also to the other one
               The march is long and now I stand
               Again on ground fresh broken


    I had small difficulty made
    In keeping up with your parade
    The underbrush was heavy, dense
    With sounds of distant fire

    I’ve been cut & I’ve been frayed
    Then spliced as whole as any maid
    Despite this rending I have stayed
    In aisles of trees amongst the shades

I pledge allegiance to the lamb
And also to the other one
The march is long and now I stand
Again on ground fresh broken


    Our loved ones they have gone
    Far from camps of death and harm
    We’re still in this mortal coil
    Words of Love as leaves unfurl

    Now you & me we’re each alone
    Yellow cake & marrow bone
    All sense of fear can pass away
    I trace a map along the way


I pledge allegiance to the lamb
And also to the other one
The march is long and now I stand
Again on ground fresh broken


                         (Sing to minor place, Bonny Prince Billy)



BIO: Lee Ann Brown is a poet and filmmaker. She founded Tender Buttons press in 1989, a press dedicated to publishing experimental women's poetry, with the publication of Bernadette Mayer's Sonnets. Ten years later, in April 1999, her own first full-length collection, Polyverse, appeared in Sun & Moon Press. She has just finished another manuscript called The Sleep That Changed Everything.

new writing

table of contents