“The Metaphysics of a Wine, in Theory and Practice” – Brandon O’Brien

Image: valsa quase antidepressiva, posted at Flickr by Giovanna Dias under a Creative Commons License.

What happens in the party lingers on the psyche, especially if it’s got you raising your hand skyward mid-flex.

Brandon O’Brien’s “The Metaphysics of a Wine, in Theory and Practice” brings you into the heat, urgency and hunger of the dancehall. Our narrator is a faithful adherent to the gospel of good soca, to the waistline-wukking titillations it provides and produces, and a caster of the gyrating die when it comes to getting down (up, or sideways). Friends, in other terms, a sweet, sweet wine was had. (Unfamiliar with wining? Read here. Responsible wining is always predicated on consent.)

The poem’s speaker casts the die, and receives resounding, hip-rotating favour: “because in that night / God’s name in her native language / was on my hips / tempting my echo of its swaying syllabisms / never illegible / but forever unpronounceable”. The recipient of a wine, dear bacchanalists, is also often its giver, and in the chorus of juk, cock back, siddong pon it and wuk up, it’s easier than you might fathom to lose your tongue, but gain something far better.

O’Brien’s poem would be persuasive if this were all it was, a tender, raunchy night trading sweat and sultry Guinness-fuelled one-liners, ass to crotch in that new place on the Avenue. What makes it puissant is the ricocheting relationship it creates between wining and astral travel. The footnotes in this poem are their own codas to speculative sugar, while the stanzas here face themselves, demotic dancing up on academic, making a limblocked marriage of language that I love. We raise our Caribs and club sodas to this series of testimonials and theorems, as we plan to jam on a town ting or a Moruga maven, a Quito-Quito queen or a Maracas mama’s boi, as we roll the dice of our own hips, betting.

Read “The Metaphysics of a Wine, in Theory and Practice” here.
Brandon O’Brien is the poetry editor of FIYAH: Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. Visit his Patreon here.

bon voyage.jpgThis is the seventeenth installment of Other Kinds of Men, a speculative poetry reader in honour of Ursula K. Le Guin. Speculative writing, which encompasses the major genres of mythology, fantasy and science fiction, has often given voice to the most relentless and ungovernable urgencies of this age, and any other. Le Guin understood this: that to write about dragons, ice worlds and other seeming oddities was, in fact, to write into the messy, riotous complexity of ourselves. Here’s to dragons, and here’s to Ursula.

“Papa Bois and the Boy” – Brandon O’Brien

Image: Edelhert (Red Deer) 001206, posted at Flickr by Zweer de Bruin under a Creative Commons License.

Gaze into the forest long enough, and it will reach for you by the root.

Brandon O’Brien‘s “Papa Bois and the Boy” is the parable you’ve been waiting for, if you’re tired of complacent, hearthside romances, and doily-dotted domestic bliss. Nothing’s wrong with the hearth, or the human home, but the poet opens the kitchen door and tumbles us into the fields. “What?” he asks. “You didn’t notice there was a wilderness, on the edge of your trimmed acre? Take one step, only one, past your boundary. Don’t be afraid of the ensuing growl.”

Oh, and growl this poem does. O’Brien parts bamboo-cathedral canopy to show us a love, and a pair of lovers: Papa Bois, and the boy who startles him, changing both their lives. The poem builds in leaf-brush strokes of intimacy, til soon, we find it teeming in us; it rifles in our pockets, plucks our smartphones from our grasps, says, stay awhile. Breathe in the verdancy. You can always selfie your pleasure, after.

This paradise of queer eros, at once boldly declarative and speculatively antlered, is not immune to the chainsaw-rap of the outside world on its mora door. The world outside of the lovers’ realm announces itself with quarrying machineries, “splitting rocks with their toes / in search of something more golden-black / than freshwater clear.”

The poem is its own sanctuary, but does not forget to be its own warning, too. In a world fringed by risks, encroached upon by the spattering gravel of curtailing freedoms, our best recourse, and truest, is to turn inward. Not turn the other cheek, necessarily: turn to the woods. Reach into the heartsapling of yourself, hold your deciduous husband’s hand, and give them hell, by first giving yourself heaven. Only come out, arboreally-haloed, when you damn well please.

Read “Papa Bois and the Boy” here.
Brandon O’Brien is the poetry editor of FIYAH: Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction.

Puncheon and VetiverThis is the twelfth installment of Puncheon and Vetiver, a Caribbean Poetry Codex created to address vacancies of attention, focus and close reading for/of work written by living Caribbean poets, resident in the region and diaspora. During April, which is recognized as ‘National’ Poetry Month, each installment will dialogue with a single Caribbean poem, available to read online. NaPoWriMo encourages the writing of a poem for each day of April. In answering, parallel discourse, Puncheon and Vetiver seeks to honour the verse we Caribbean people make, to herald its visibility, to read our poems, and read them, and say ‘more’.