Murmuration of starlings

Four Poems by Collier Brown

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Over Rome,
indecipherable birds
collapse or clone
or bend twilight
into contra-
diction. They have
no idea they’re even
here; otherwise,
how could they give
so much secret away
for nothing?



Dialogue of Self and Self, Having Lost Track of Earth on Google Maps

Let’s not give up yet, I said.

Let’s let the mint and nimblewill
wake to say their say.

Let’s start a fire, here’s a paper bag.

Let’s wait until the ibis
builds her miles      abruptly up.

Let’s sleep by dim cinders
near the gold-black pond.

Ok, I said. I’ll leave this truck
inside a ditch.

I’ll hide silkworms from snow
inside my clothes.

Heads or tails, no matter what,
(I say it to myself like this)

I won’t look past the ocean
to see the ocean.

I won’t climb down a hole
to find                  the sky.



And Now for the Difficult Part

Check email right
now. Last good
memory, to tweet.
Haven’t seen a star
all year. One white deer
in a photograph—
the photograph,
to supplement
one white deer.
Prediction: leopard moths
no more, neither
June heat, and ice
along the sparrow’s wire.

Always the difficult part:
happiness. But before
the quick delete,
watch this: cicadas
on the branch undress.
Send this: a vase of weeds.
Build this: a fire
on the fallen tree.
Take this: my hand,
we’ll slip into the lake,
and then,
dry off slow in smoke,
and then
into the bees, follow me.



I’m Not Nostalgic but Mars Doesn’t Have My Beech Trees

In flood stories: earth revives, the rains
dry up for white birds—but the raven,
remember? Never seen again.
Wasn’t new life he was looking for.




Collier BrownCollier Brown is a poet, literary scholar, and photography critic. Stephen F. Austin University Press published his first full-length poetry collection, Eye, Thus Far, Unplucked, in 2017, and individual poems have appeared, among other places, in Best New Poets, Rattle, Measure, Asheville Poetry Review, Cortland Review, Poetry East, and Barrow Street. Brown currently teaches writing at Harvard University and is the founding editor of Od Review, an online venue for the photographic arts.

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Header photo by Tanya Hart, courtesy Wikimedia. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.