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. 

Garden Scene with a Watering Can

                      After the painting by Paul Klee

The garden blooms in peaceful excitement.
Watering cans, shy, diffident, reside
ready for their quenching duty.
An empty sky-blue work bucket,
its handle resting in repose, announces
the day’s work complete, waits
to catch the cat’s contented purr
purl from its perch atop
a patio table next to a lounge chair
we want to inhabit—we who,
with hand shovel and hoe, grow
art in our backyards—slip off
work gloves amid earthen smells
and trembling leaves, put-up our feet
and dream a wild palette of color.

Ars Poetica III

A poem leaps off
the page grabs me
by my shirt front rips
off a few buttons and
smacks me straight
in the nose
my blood splatters
all over my desk oozes
out of my printer
keyboard keys hopelessly
sticky and stained
This is when I know I’m alive
dead poets dance across pages
laugh and weep
speak of grief
spring forward fall backwards
horse hooves on cobblestones
heart monitor’s beep beep beep
cars speed through the night
an ear gentle against the ground
listens for an absent god
suicidal teen’s feet inch
closer to the overpass edge
a lake laps calm as
a loon’s call at dawn
cancer ward cries
sweaty sighs of entwined lovers
silence loud as a stanza break
sights seen in my midnight mind
all the songs sung
in psyche’s dark tunnel
go ahead give me your best shot
I’m ready for another round

Instructions for Golfers

First, wash your balls! To play the game
with dirty balls is to dishonor it. Then place
a ball on a stick that’s convex on one end and
jam it into the sward. Grab a club that has
a big block of wood on its end and grip it
as if you are ten years old and making
a secret handshake with a friend. Now,
wiggle your heinie like you would if
a swarm of fire ants jumped into your pants
and began to omnivore your privates. Gaze
down the fairway at a tiny flag on the
horizon—squint and aim for it.
Whack the gleaming ball and watch its
antiseptic flight into the ether as birds,
bugs, foul, and all legitimate nature
avoid its rude trajectory. Hop into your
motorized wain and pretend, over the roar
of the engine, that you are both engaging
nature and exercising in it. Breathe deeply
the gaseous air and smirk at your comrades
as their carts crisscross what was once a
placid grassy plain. Congratulate yourself
on the masculine dismount from your chariot
as you make the heroic decision about
which club to use for your approach shot. Oh
the tension as you survey the 3 iron, the 5 iron,
and choose, with trembling hand, the 7 iron.
Wiggle your keister again as you prepare
to abuse the grass-besmirched orb that, only
moments ago, you so gently bathed. With
the courage of Custer at his last stand, watch
the ball bounce toward the tiny flagpole
on the green. Look down and notice
you’ve uprooted a six-inch swath of turf.
Grab a clump of dead flora and further molest
it with your cleated shoe— tell yourself you’ve
healed a cosmic scar. Return to your cart, open
the cooler in the back, and pop the top on a cold one.
Marvel at the mix of fermented cattle feed that slithers
down your throat at only half past 8 this morn.
Nature is grand, you think on your way to the
matted surface of chemically stunted grass you
call the green. Crouch down, and extend your
putter from your crotch toward the hole. It’s so long!
Imagine your ball as it travels the slope and curve
of the soft sod and sinks deep into the abyss. Stroke
your ball. You love to stroke your ball. Watch it
meander toward the hole, kiss its lip, but fail to enter
its sanctum sanctorum. No matter, only a quick spurt
from your putter and poof, your ball disappears into
that tiny dark continent. Sigh with satisfaction, wipe
your brow, and repeat these steps 17 more times.
Once home, refuse your wife’s request that you
shower before entering her boudoir, certain that her
amorous reluctancies will willingly succumb to the
manly musk that pulsates from your virile visage.

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