Syntactical Arrangements of a Twisted Wind by Earl S. Braggs


Earl Braggs' Syntactical Arrangements of a Twisted Wind is a prophetic work. American as the blues, these poems take the outrages of recent history into a vision where the heart and humor, irony and vulnerability enable poet and community to survive -- and sometimes sing. There's breathtaking bravery and edge to the voice here, a Joycean stream of consciousness that refuses to be censored or subdued. This book moves our poetry in ways that only a true poet can. -- David Mura


Story Without an Ending

White girl sitting alone in a black jazz box theater,
two complete stories above, without endings, ends

in this place, graced by the sad jazz of Star Lucky 
Coffeehouse and Café on a street with no name,

in a neighborhood that has forgotten to be ashamed 
of its own cracked-up sidewalks. Nothing here but

white trash reasons and broken blue beer bottles,
now empty of any promise at all. Allyson Blue

is the name I assign to this whiter than white 
white girl who wears the mistake of black dye

in her platinum blonde hair. She doesn't care 
to look into her own black-eye lined eyes, but

tonight she is looking through John Lennon glasses
at me. Me, I am listening to the Rolling Stones

rolling out a radio talk-show of rock 'n' roll 
in a bowl of red beans and rice and jazz, so nice tonight

in this Sad Ballad Cafe afraid to face the reason
the morning sun does not want to shine brightly

upon either of us, unwanted cornfield children,
forgotten because we forgot that color matters in

South Carolina during the height of hurricane season. 
A storm named Earl is on his way. We both refuse

to evacuate tables of impending high wind, rain. Love
is love and no matter how you shape it, it is still

going to be full of bullet holes. Broken hearts bleed. 
No need to turn back or turn down the silk sheets

of an unmade bed. Love is the only thing that can die
and not be dead. Allyson is reading, slowly, the palm trees

of my hand. My fingers are pointing at her breasts
of reasons for pointing out the inconsistencies of tracking

the projected movement of damaged hearts and weather 
patterns that call out our names, scribbled, put away

and forgotten only to be, years later, re-forgotten again,
but the story never ends. In rainy, wind driven, stormy times

like these, the movie makers never want the audience 
to know black and white photography is way more beautiful

than any coded color coded colorful situational drama. 
Cornfield life is real. Cornfield music is jazz. Allyson

and I, we make our unsteady way to the exit of this 
song, she is breathing softly the spaces between my words,

and I'm listening to lips, painted red rush hour red.
Broken hearts bleed. Blood on coffeehouse floor, everywhere

Where are my keys? What day is today? Where does

forever come from, and where does forever go when
it disappears? I do not know is always incomplete,

the answer to standard sized questions of impending 
weather patterns defined by the wet noise of wet wind

and rain that would explain, if it could, pelting from above.
Love is the only thing that can die and not be dead.

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