March 29-April 4, 2004: Anonymous and John Mason Browning


week of March 29-April 4, 2004

Anonymous and John Mason Browning

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Bathhouse on Yonge

I Bird

Chlorine careens
sharply past my nose
as the Portuguese and
Japanese and Lebanese
boys cross my path
young muscles in white towels
slide easily through narrow
I, the shoeless stiff white boy in
a towel pass rooms and rooms
Boys (maybe men, up close)
watch for boys
to emerge from the sauna
or the dark room screening
vintage porn, 
like cats casing

I stop in the hall
as though my delicate
bones had flown
full tilt into a thick
pane of glass
II Cat

Then, there you are,
lying flat on your stomach,
leg dangling from the
cot like a broken wing
The dim fluorescent light
from the narrow hall
throws a wide broad-stroke
along your hips, up to the top
of your shoulders
I stop, legs stiff yet able,
feet, shoeless, like soft
paws on dewy grass
as I ponder the prospect of
you, that I might be your
First appeared in Fab Magazine’s (Toronto) Literary Issue, 2004


Middle aged white man in a blue
polo shirt, with the thirty-four year
old Asian boyfriend that teaches at
UCLA, yes, we’re trashy like that Me and your picture you thinking
(I know) that I should

take off my black t-shirt Somehow
you’re half here and I’m all the way
there How many other boys have
you shown your picture to?

Up North

We walk to my cousin Nathan’s house We walk to the A & W to gawk at the tourists off
the greyhound whose clothes are wrinkled like the
skin of rotting apples We walk to the river,
we walk to the Green Gables
to drink domestic beer
made in Wisconsin We walk, and we stop,
dig our Pepsi’s
into dirt sidewalks, tie
our Reeboks, and
After all this walking, we’re still here
and still renting videos we’ve seen
three times.

Jail No Bars

I know a place
Not windswept But in a valley:
Borders All white pines and rock A line of track sharp as granite through
stone runs quick from the bush
into its ragged core Then escapes:
Air gasping out of lungs.

John Mason Browning


I am a poet, artist, lover, and teacher I have a BA in Creative Writing and a BAEd in Secondary Education I have performed my poetry at The Spike, Aunties, and was the featured reader at Mootsy’s I teach English, Math, and American Indian History in Spokane, Washington

The following work is Copyright © 2004, and owned by John Mason Browning and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Death’s Nursery

Sleeping wheelchair angels
in the hallways of the people dump
chins rest on breasts
that the years have seared
into wilting coin purses
while nurses like seagulls take notes
of the final hours Old women in diapers
drag their feet on the floor
with ankles like 2 by 4’s

and waiting to be forgotten
Once a week, 
maybe, once a week, 
the family visits
and even then they
are in too much flurry
afraid of the smell or feces and urine
coated in imitation orange bliss
it’s all so scary, like a leper colony
except we all get this dis-ease
sooner or later
The old man doesn’t remember Korea
being so bad as this In the marines
he was a MAN He sits in the portico
and turns off his oxygen
and lights up his cigarette, 
chain smokes 2, 3 4, 5
with infant breaths Huddled in blankets
even on Summer days and says
to a statue of Jesus Christ, 
looking all compassionate and tired, 
“Can’t you see I am in a hurry, God damn it ”
Cigarette halo’s floating to heaven
with carbon monoxide hallelujah
and blue asphyxiated spiritual loopholes
And soon it’s time for BINGO
And soon it is time for the church dirges
And soon it is time for breakfast, lunch, dinner
And soon it is morning meds, afternoon meds, evening meds, 
in assorted glories drawing out our lives
like some kind of sympathetic
Chinese water torture
or being drawn and quartered
by pills or seeing the one hundredth episode
of “Leave It to Beaver”
for the one hundredth time
and holy molly
will the days never end
and you reckon for the time
when you will remember your last breath
as well as you’d remembered your first

Don’t let this thing happen to me
Mechanized senility, medicinal survival No I pray I get hit by a car I pray I am shot by an angry lover I pray I am struck by a meteor Do not let me go gentle in my sleep
In that technological hell Besides that, it smells like a urinal,
The peaceful porcelain is far too cruel I don’t want to stare at grave nurses rasping,
“Let me fucking die, 
you bitch, you whore “
Even Adolph Hitler was not so antiseptic
About suffering in his mass production of death
As we are in fabricating
These lingering, counterfeit days
Where life has become just a memory
Of a memory, all real recollection
Long since decayed
Through endless half-lives.

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