The Complete Poems of Louis Daniel Brodsky: Volume Two, 1967-1976
edited by Sheri L. Vandermolen
On a salmon run, I'm almost caught, Mistakenly thought to be spawning, When all that's happening is my escape From the cluttered city-riverbeds.
While all the worn-out weekend species Return to funky Sunday evenings, Completing elongated rehearsal dinners, I swim wombward, toward strange beds
In an alien stream of nighttime life. First, I go with the strangling current, By outlying environs, then against tides, As complaints well up behind the eyes.
Finally, only briefly scattered whales Surface in my bright beams, Spewing black exhaust through blowholes Before diving into lengthening longitudes.
Still I go, slower now in new territory, Finning fast, letting up off the gas pedal. Fluting through slick vacuums, I feel There are no assurances that an eel or shark
Won't dare interrupt my hypnotized course Toward tepid Atlantis, where forever occurs, Or that I'll ever reach Mediterranea Or even return to mid-Monday-morning's reports.
Use the player below to listen to Louis Daniel Brodsky read this poem.
The second volume in Louis Daniel Brodsky's Complete Poems series, covering his early years as a professional poet, from 1967 to 1976, contains more than eight hundred chronologically arranged pieces. This body of work shows Brodsky developing a number of artistic strategies to record the life he chose outside the realm of academia, which he abandoned after completing his master's degree in creative writing at San Francisco State University in 1968.
In an extraordinary inward-looking search for that which would fulfill his need to be an artist and a working man, to lead a life both creative and practical, Brodsky moved to a town of ten thousand in southeast Missouri, to work in a men's-clothing factory. In this milieu, so foreign to him, he composed verse only sporadically for two and a half years. But once at home in his new surroundings, he began producing poems at a prolific rate — about small-town life, marriage, factory work, days and nights on the road as an outlet-store manager, the birth of his first child, parenthood.
These experiences revitalized Brodsky's enthusiasm for his true calling — capturing in verse the things of this world. His sense of wonder in meeting townspeople and blue-collar laborers, engaging in café society, rural politics, and commerce, gave rise to works he never would have written as an English teacher. To his astonishment, Brodsky discovered that poetry could be wrought out of the most seemingly prosaic elements. And this revelation led him to yet another: that nothing, no matter how imagined or autobiographically revealing, disturbing, or mundane, can be left out if the poet's goal is to get it said honestly, contain his entire life in the lines of one ongoing poem.