Charlie Brice

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. 

My Face

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?

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