Hannah Brooks-Motl

The Vase

Medium sized dogs in flashing collars ran code across the dark
seeking their attributes              And I could not praise

            Bullfrogs and the waterfall                        3 meetings plus
a Covid test, 5 am with every window open on   my precious 
            unmade    kid

A crumpled-up tank later smoothed out and placed invitingly
            on the side of the road like a ware                               For some
     the tumult subsides in management            not change

                        Maybe it’s just who you are—  yet an individual
cancerous and supreme                           Or life’s exactly

                    what every other poet said       a long green road
        gravel either side and the feeling of
I have written that

That’s all gone

                Its lungs and mind


A toxic aunt
In the woven headpiece

The give and take of night
I walk within
A phrase-idea, the dusk
I’m standing at

        Medium sized dogs greeting each other      off leash
in my dreams             
      Take these tools,    
build some credit

I could not praise         

            Conveying in its double wide                extended cab, just
    a person in a Subaru             dialing their therapist

Do you write thinky poems or feely poems the painter asked
on the fire escape

Why should you consider me?

Thinky someone answered so guess it’s true

I have a terrible imagination

That feels bad

Full of limits, uncareered

Feely feels bad too

Hotboxing the minivan
Fries on the road

A woman far out
That anarchic spirit

At dawn
Another chorus

You’re angry with the wrong side don’t you hate
To hear it

Everyone who went alone
Watching through the window

Their persons in the snow

    Then conversation shifted                  and each gave their hierarchy
            in the pantheon of artists
              quarreling save for those         that concurred

        in asserting the quintessence                of musicians, who
they claimed     irrefutably     reminded you
        you are not dead                       of which criteria they again

        agreed to be nonpareil
        to the kind of thing
        the true artist              should aspire to achieve

I said I like ceramicists for their beautiful utility
         A vase doesn’t make me glad to be alive
                    The novelist decreed

2 Ditties Then:

                    The student farm knows not how
                    It came to grow
                    These purple kohlrabies

Three fish don’t fit
In the pan I like
To cook all three you need to use
The other one

They just don’t come out right

These friends are not interested in your fine philosophies
    There is a body    an urge that you deny           in order to
                refine a proposition—?

You must join their tickled chaos!                 but authentically
       I still get excited when talk turns     to art                  
Secretly I roll               around the word aesthetics                   

     like a booger on my thumb
         In Anya’s garden out of Chekhov  like the middle
Of Gooseberries          in the pond, there was no pond

                                                                No man with a hammer but
          a bird cannon      warning off crows from the corn
           every 5-7 minutes          Is happiness thus

punctuated? Or woven as this idea I had       to call a poem     
The Woven Headpiece in which, prosaic but inventive         bare
      and intellectual in my reasoning,                      I’d move

                        from peg to peg in the overheating world
Bones of cows              discovered in brooks
              Yards disclosing         twisted teas

        All I can think is to think again
        of the vaster partaking   of anything that is
the moms and dads       plus weirder relations

                    A chubby knee of which   we spiritually take part
Or belong utterly and to each—          the many of us gathered
        on the fire escape       for it was cooler there

               I spoke of a gun range     at solstice
   The definition of a firearm?                He told us as we ate
                          some feta    drizzled in honey

        Tangled, ticky               in the old growth impossible
not to imagine        what’s beyond the road, the green
          so rotate the vase            to climb in

Poet Dilemma

Do I want seconds
I want to write a great poem
              Here just falling asleep
Thinking of animal names     inventing
         A new way to do adjectives
    Sustain the regard, all corrupted parts
Of the diction

    Can I enlist you?
What’s true for the snail
        Is splendor

                                    Bananas             crescent moons
        there is rain and a virus outside            they are falling
   in a strange occasion the morning will be
            “all mine”

    Golden hills against the greyish truth             cemetery appearing in
the old romances          proximal, notational      sketchy

   A teenager on main street, it can’t be
simply impressions        yet impressive how the stars

Turmoils     the turgid passages  
      Luscious rash

                        I have learned to say                 
from a long list of murders         such ecstatic personal austerities
            this great ensample
presumption and arrogant visions         
                                        make up Art’s heart

If you think words are made of poems
I mean poems made of words
As we’re taught

I know plenty of words
Though I come from the provinces
Where the earth is filled with violence

Agentic, essential
To what a human calls the world
In high sun

A dark corner    
Odd fog
In vital personality

Standing at the fair     
I know dismay has some relation to lyric  
Through repetition

And measure 
Is a breathing castle
Stacking lines together

Science won’t destroy our enigma
But does something to the glare
The peaks of these

Nodding grasses
Remind me of paradise
Where sentiment is hard and clear

Hannah Brooks-Motl was born and raised in Wisconsin. She is the author of the poetry collections The New Years (2014), M (2015), and Earth (2019). Her next book of poems is forthcoming from The Song Cave in 2025.