Charlie Brice is the author of Flashcuts Out of Chaos (2016), Mnemosyne’s Hand (2018), and An Accident of Blood (2019), all from WordTech Editions. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net anthology and twice for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, The Main Street Rag, Chiron Review, Permafrost, The Paterson Literary Review,and elsewhere.
What about my face? I don’t spend time looking at it, got out of the habit at sixteen when my face looked like the winner in a Craters of Mars Lookalike Contest. I spent so much time scratching my face that scritch became my theme song and screech the sound emitted as horrified humans shrank from me. And now, an app that finds your twin in history. Why would I want a twin? Could the world endure two of me? For a class project in middle school our son, Ariel, wrote a report on General Rosecrans, my great great grandfather. The photo Ari found of him bore a remarkable resemblance to me. Rosecrans, a general for the Union Army, is famous for losing the battle of Chickamauga in the Civil War. Evidently, he pissed off General Grant by refusing an order that would have won the day. Rosecrans, also known as Rosy, went on to become a United States Representative from California. A street bears his name in LA. What would great great grandpa think of his maybe not so great great grandson—a conscientious objector and lifelong pacifist? Most likely old great great pap pap would hop on his horse, draw his shiny sword, let out a screech, and ride into the rosy penumbra of history.
The Holy Land
Some call it Mecca, others Jerusalem, but for me it would be Liverpool, where four scruffy guys held our collective hands and loved us yeah, yeah, yeah. I had a yellow sparkle Japanese drum kit my parents bought me. I learned Ringo’s kick beats, what he liked to do with the floor tom, the tom tom, and the high hat: how he’d set the cymbals so they’d clang together, produce their own wall of sound. I set my ride and crash symbols very high, like Ringo, my stool so high I almost stood up. One drunken night in Wheatland, Wyoming, my stool broke in the middle of a solo. I ran down into the school’s locker room and puked up the quart of Bali Hi wine I’d drunk on the eighty mile drive from Cheyenne. Craig, our base player hung me by my collar from a hook used for coats in the strong Wheatland winter. This was no Cavern Club and our band, The Rogues, remained one of the hundreds of tiny bands in tiny towns across the country that went nowhere. But the Beatles inspired us all, made us happier with their music, made our land holy.
The Truth About Stones
It’s a wonder Keith is still with us, that his veins haven’t turned to granite. He and the boys still send satisfaction from their hearts of stone which have nothing in common with rocks resting in the shallows of Little Traverse Bay, magnified by rippling tides, punctuated by the occasional trout or wide-mouth bass. The gems of the region, Petoskey stones, dapple beaches of the Great Lakes as well as our sandy patch on Walloon Lake—earthy nuggets, decorated by fossilized coral, latticed by the Pleistocene 350 million years ago. We use a huge one for a doorstop at our cabin. And then there are the sandstones collected by our friend, Joyce, on a walk at Sturgeon Bay, brought back to our place and stacked by this artist/poet, largest on the bottom, smallest on the top, like tasty beige rockcakes from a Devonian oven, arranged and rearranged for years by Judy and me according to our joyful or melancholic vapors. What will we do with those lovely layers now that we will sell our place, leave the watery womb that held us at Walloon, we thought, forever?