Two Poems | by Brian Jerrold Koester

Behind the Gateway Shopping Center
Portland Oregon 1971

Something in man’s form
hunted small boys
like me

Would melt away
when I would spot him
by the billboard

Unless he had already
seized prey
his words to them still venom to me

Take it, or you’re going to get hurt.
If it won’t fit, play with it.
Grab it fast. Grab it fast!

The charcoal light
of afternoon
was mercy

A cop only questioned
didn’t keep

Mom knew the news never
cared about batteries

A cold fish still
tries to escape
from my gut

Now I wonder
now I

Why Mom kept sending me then
without enough money
for stuff the store never sold




Passing for Human

            To my stepdad, John

You said demons pass for human all the time.
Hardly anybody can see the stone grey
of their skin, hair, nails,

but you were one.
Hardly anybody could see the flames you lived in.

You haven’t showed your face in my dreams
since you saw the demons come for you.

Are you afraid without that big body?
Are you too deep in hell?

Or are you waiting
until you can start in on me again?
I hope the cats you kicked like leaves can give me strength.

When I poured you out on the sward
at the lighthouse on Cape Blanco,
we were lucky nobody saw.

Now nobody goes there
even to watch a storm,
and the sky and the land loath each other.

How could it have slipped my mind
to piss on your ashes?




Brian Jerrold Koester holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. He is a Best of the Net Anthology nominee. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Agni, HeartWood, The Delmarva Review, Right Hand Pointing, Peacock Journal, Poetry Pacific, Louisiana Literature Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in Lexington, Massachusetts and has been a freelance cellist.