Mark Jay Brewin, Jr.




Below Corson's Inlet Bridge

 

The heavens reed-thin, the ocean surface

lunar-bruised, and the horseshoe crabs' rustle

silenced to a shore of wave-split fossils—

plated scuttle-legs gull-picked—surrounded us

as we crawled out onto the slippery mess

of seaweed-slicked rocks pocked with mussels

and barnacles that pierced the bustle

and crash of ocean's swell and foamy lace.

 

Sitting Indian style on the dock,

we passed around the thought of how we might

die—cancer, or some fatal blockage—and found

a beached dogfish on the dune path back,

too scared to poke it for fear of its bite,

although we knew it had long since air-drowned.



Ned Kelly Exiled In New Zealand

           

As Transcribed By A Public House Patron

Onto A Peeled Whisky Label, 1930:

 

Take your man here, as remarkable now

as a weasel in the brush.  I was but an hour

from the hangman's noose when two men

loosed my shackles and bid me not even breath

save I wished the police to give chase again. 

A long week at sea.  A few pounds given me

for the landing and there after.  In youth,

I found it shameful to ride the shanks mare,

and there I was, strolling the long road

to Greymouth.  First parcel of years, I chanced

the arm at the honest plough and played knuckles

back of the pub, but the blaggard's errand

even followed me here.  Fooling horse brands

was as simple as the sleeves on a dustcoat,

till a gelding reared and crippled my right hand.

I could feel the heft of armor bogging my trunk.

Tell me, what sits before you?  Any of my breed

marked by the gun grows to a blathering drunk.

I would have rather choked.  The clouds

were outturned pockets, and still too thin

to sling a shadow.  You can't guess the colours

in the wombat ranges' evening sash.  The last

words my mother spoke to me was "Mind you die

like a Kelly," and they clanged worse than chains.

So I will die here, an island away from my own,

in this place, where a lighthouse keeper's cat

can blot out a whole chime of wren forever. 

Where magpies pipe as the calls of other birds,

the ring of bullets, feral horses in the bush.




Mark Jay Brewin, Jr., won the 2012 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize of the University of Utah Press for his first book manuscript, Scrap Iron. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Southern Poetry Review, New Madrid, The Hollins Critic, Copper Nickel, Southern Humanities Review, Poet Lore, North American Review, Greensboro Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. He is a graduate of the MFA program of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.










                                    

 

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