Annah Browning

Medium in the Morning

I have been sleeping strangely—

I've been living with

a song, that on and off

vibrates me like a beehive—

head on the floor—I hear

the flood of kazoos, dead people

doing their morning or evening

washing. Whatever

it is down there. I hear

the tinny singing of the spirits

and long for, I don't know

exactly what—a new geranium,

something red, something I can't

take my eyes off of—you know,

how they tell you to balance:

pick one spot to fixate on.

They say I live like Gemini,

the twins, or Rhodes—one leg

in this world, one slung over

into the next. I ride a bad,

bad horse. I'm so tired

of being vital, of herding

the mothers and the widows.

Gaslight murders my stomach.

Like all armies, the dead

march there, gobbling up

my perfume, the weather,

the communion of the saints

What wafer-thin things

their children are, conceived

in this life, born in the next,

toddling without lungs.

Their insides are black as the cores

of old apples, pistol shine,

my eyes in the kitchen window

washing up, saying, what art thou

doing today? Then I wipe

away the tea leaves, and try again.


Medium on the Dietary Habits of the Dead

What ghosts eat: slippers.

Static. The relative unevenness

of staircases. Migraine aura.

Trump cards. Delicate children.

Smooth flat stones. Fruits candied,

dried or desiccated. The recently

mated. Zygotes you can pop

like a grape. Bundles of skirt

unmended. Dishcloth carrying

the crumbs and blood

of daily meals. Odd forsakenness.

Metal toys. Rust and Rustoleum.

Soft toys gone mealy under

many a sweaty hand. How much

I miss, my mother. My mother.

Flags ripped apart by wind. The dirt

around the crater where my daughter

was not born.  


Suicide Ghost

Death is not a precise activity.

Just aim in the general

direction. Then there,

you've got it. Got what?

Nothing. That's about right.

Almost right. It's almost right

and straight on until

morning, though nothing

is thereafter straight. I have

a vision now of one of those

cats that mummified,

stuck behind the pipe organ,

going for that one eternal

mouse. No one thinks

they're going to become

a stray leather purse, an easily

mistakable grocery bag,

damp and flattened

in the outer lots where,

I have heard it said,

the women circle.

We want to call everything

planetary, but really

there's much more cosmic

dust—debris, you could say.

But that implies that there

was something there before,

something whole, now blown

apart—very often I held a piece

of glass in my hand,

and licked it, started

to curl my flesh

around it, just to the point

of blood. I do not know,

I never did, what the hell any

human heart was ever doing. 


Author Bio

Annah Browning hails from the foothills of South Carolina. She holds an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis and a Ph.D. from the Program for Writers at The University of Illinois-Chicago, and she is the author of a chapbook, The Marriage (Horse Less Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Black Warrior ReviewWillow Springs, Indiana Review, Boulevard, and other journals. She is poetry editor of Grimoire, an online literary magazine of dark arts.