Welcome – poetry and a trip to Australia

8/24/10 – I have spent  3 weeks in Australia.  Came back with a number of poems and ideas.  These poems are drafts being workshopped here with you.  Please let me know any suggestions or impressions you have.

The header is a shot of Uluru in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.  Uluru is impressive for a number of reasons, including its color changes, which range from deep red at sunrise and sunset, to shiny black after a rain.

Thank you.

Ray Brown

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Praying at Gate A11 – The Hasidic and the Muslim

Newark Liberty Airport

Black fedora, rekel,
dark nigrescent payot,
Torah in hand
he bowed rhythmically
toward the terminal wall.
Murmuring nusach –
prayers of devotion to Elohim.

Diametrically across the cylindrical terminal
unrolled a sajjada,
knelt, bowed in sujud toward Mecca
chanted salat to Allah.

Only the center plaza
where the world served refreshments
and snacks in 15 languages,
hid each, from the other’s view.

The Hasidic and the Muslim.

On streets in Brooklyn
or Haifa alleyways,
they stand sworn enemies
perhaps one or both,
Angels of Death.

Are the ears of their Gods deaf
to their pleas?
Why no epic battle of finality
between Those beseeched?
Why these human surrogates, chess pieces
in a centuries old game?
Or, are Zeus and Kronos
no longer nemesis?
Long ago having learned
the destruction their competition hath wrought…

Are their Gods now brothers,

the Hasidic and the Muslim?

Does each fight vainly on,
to prove some pointless point of faith –

Their Gods having had enough – a long time ago.

Ray Brown

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21 Hour Flight


Newark Liberty to Sydney
when giving a reading
I should announce when
there are but three to four poems
remaining to be read –

so the audience may have hope,
that they can make it to the end.

Like Joshua exhorted Charlton Heston
after he had parted the Red Sea,
the Pharaoh’s charges in pursuit,
“Stand high atop the rock
that the people may have hope”.

Now, fifteen hours, thirty minutes
into a 21 hour fight
I long for the United Pilot
to make an announcement,
to offer optimism,
tell me there are only 4 hours left until Sydney
give me hope that I can make it.

My wife tells me that

Ray Brown

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Travel with Someone You Love


No matter …
    the beauty in nature’s pristine treasured sites.
    how the twisting path along the rock face
    leads to breathtaking vistas.

No matter …
    the simple grandeur of the art work of the indigenous,
    archeology sites where awe
    does not suffice to describe the viewer.

No matter …
    what moves within a soul awakened by panoramas,
    a rock face whose colors change with the passing day,
    the visual sensations afloat in the coral.

No matter …
    the sun’s warmth on the beaches
    the sweeping crescents, rolling waves
    the precious solace of a quiet cove.

Even these provide no great fulfillment.

You must travel with someone you love.

Ray Brown

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What Progress Has Wrought

This poem was published in the June edition of FreeXpresSion, an Australian Magazine.  Thank you.

A friend of mine, an anthropologist,
lived in the Australian outback
with an aboriginal tribe for 30 months.
He returned to New Jersey.
One sunny October day
driving along the Delaware River
on Route 29, from Stockton to Frenchtown,

the palisades which claimed the river as their own
looming above on both sides,

he approached the Devil’s Tea Table
a flat, plateau rock outcropping
350 feet above the travelled way
protected by hordes of brown and tan
poisonous, copperhead snakes.

There below Satan’s table
on the shoulder of the roadway
he beat the State of New Jersey,
Department of Transportation
contracted Deer Carcass removal company
when he stopped and picked up the body of a deer,
which had lost an argument with another vehicle.

At home, in the farm field
he gutted and skinned the buck
hung the meat to dry
and from the hide fashioned leggings,
sewed for himself a pair of winter snow boots.

The ribs he would carve into his New Jersey
version of an amulet, the rack of antlers
he ground into an aphrodisiac powder,
most of the entrails
he would bury in his garden plot
to decompose as fertilizer.

Whatever litter he left in the field
the scavengers made good use of.
No part unattended
no stone unturned.

When the New Jersey DEP, Division of Fish and Wildlife
learned of his rebellious act, they fined him $ 750
in the Kingwood Township Municipal Court
for procuring wildlife, although dead,
without a permit.

It made no difference that he saved them $ 75 –
the cost the State paid the contractor
to remove each carcass,
hauling the remains to the incinerator in Warren County
where it would add to all our troubles,
its emissions needing scrubbing
before the crisp blackened deer smoke could pollute the air.

While he had been awarded a full professorship
at Princeton
he packed that night, used the satchel he
had tanned from the balance of the pelt –
which they did not notice
when they confiscated the boots and carvings
as the ill gotten gains from his illegal activity
all stored by the State in a warehouse in Trenton
along side the unlicensed shotguns
and racks of antlers from poachers
who hunted with their headlights in the evening.

What remained of the entrails not yet decomposed
together with a portion of the dirt from his garden
he boxed up and posted for
overnight delivery to the Commissioner of DEP,

and thereafter, he left quietly that same night
and returned to Australia.

Ray Brown

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