Charlie Brice won the 2020 Field Guide Poetry Magazine Poetry Contest and placed third in the 2021 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Prize. His chapbook, All the Songs Sung (Angel Flight Press), and his fourth poetry collection, The Broad Grin of Eternity (WordTech Editions) arrived in 2021. His poetry has been nominated for the Best of Net Anthology and three times for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlanta Review, Chiron Review, The Paterson Literary Review, The Sunlight Press, Impspired Magazine, and elsewhere.
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I hope my poems form a crispy crust of couplets, tercets, and quatrains and possess the tangy liveliness of tomato sauce laced with garlic, with metaphors worthy of the most smooth and tasty mozzarella cheese. Could my iambs and trochees surprise my readers like pepperoni and Italian sausage shocks their tongues? Will my anapests appeal to their pallets in the way that anchovies attract their appetites? Will the chomp of onions remind them of my line breaks, each stanza a new slice of the poetic pizza pie? Will my poem’s meaning be as inviting and familiar as the aroma that rises from that steamy Sicilian dish? Could my words warm a room like that?
While walking through a farm field in Buskupee, Poland, carrying a metal detector, Pyzemyslaw Witkowski found coins used in 845 AD by the terrified inhabitants of Paris, coins used to pay off Viking marauders from destroying their even then beautiful city. How those coins wound up in a Polish field remains a mystery, but what intrigued me about the article, in today’s New York Times, was its mention of Charles the Bald, grandson of Charlemagne, who ruled part of the Carolingian Empire in 845 when the Vikings threatened Paris. Here I sit in my backyard with a cup of Russian tea, amid day lilies and roses of Sharon, serenaded by robins, catbirds, and chickadees, ruling over my tiny kingdom while bald. Yes, I too am Charles the Bald! Aging has ushered so many indignities: Ten years ago my opposable thumbs became opposed to removing plastic coverings on containers, unscrewing bottle caps, opening jars and attaching hoses to faucets. Then my ankles went: one of them will quit on a walk and I’ll have to ask my sweet dog, Mugsi, how we are supposed to get home. I won’t neglect to mention how I woke up one morning with a stiff neck that never went away or all those “marbles” that roll around in my back when I stretch. While I wouldn’t want to lose all my marbles, are they supposed to be in my back? And, of course, there’s my hair, the individual strands of which have been bailing out of my skull, skydiving onto carpets and floors and clogging showers and sinks for years. But now I’ve discovered a king who celebrated his infirmity. Yes, now I am Charles the Bald! But I could also be Charles of the Worthless Thumbs, or Charles of the Unfaithful Ankles, or even Charles Who Has All of His Marbles. I like that one. That’s something I can be proud of.
Ceci N’Est Pas Une Mort
After Perspective: David’s ‘Madame Recamier,’ a painting by Rene’ Magritte He was present when they pulled his mother’s body from the sea, her nightgown ribbed up over her matted mitten, his first home, baptized by despair. No one knows what pushed her over the cliff on that dark night. Was it what endeared or what endured, illness or money, or merely the psychosis of everyday life? Her coffin rests upright on a chaise lounge, ready for a nap or a psychoanalytic session. Her nightgown puddles beneath its death-cauldron. Who could have fathomed the depths?