Brick Road Poetry Press

poetry made to entertain, amuse, and edify

The mission of Brick Road Poetry Press is to publish and promote poetry that entertains, amuses, edifies, and surprises a wide audience of appreciative readers.  We are not qualified to judge who deserves to be published, so we concentrate on publishing what we enjoy. Our preference is for poetry geared toward dramatizing the human experience in language rich with sensory image and metaphor, recognizing that poetry can be, at one and the same time, both familiar as the perspiration of daily labor and as outrageous as a carnival sideshow.

Poetry by David Watts from Having and Keeping

David Watts Bio

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My father is made

of dust and intelligence.

He holds the barn together

with road signs:

Grapette, Lucky Strike,

Burma Shave,

rusty foundlings

cobbling slats together

like stitches in a fence.

He preaches Jesus.

He whistles Turkey in the Straw.


Mother is made from music

and culture.  She bakes

bread.  Opens her tilted uterus

for two sons.

She plays Five Foot Two

on the ukulele.

She is a long way from Laredo.


They made me

out of farming and music,


with two lines tangled,

hatched like a confounded


with a tune in its head.


So it happens the barn hums

old melodies,

names, and notes.


And the cotton rows get counted

as beats in a measure,

like Mozart,

while the combine whistles

a shed full of arias.


My father shows me harrow,

windmill, horse trough.

Already he knows my world

is different.


He knows inheritance

is like jumping through smoke.


He listens for what I hear.

The forest hums.

Even the Johnson grass squeaks

as it grows.


The Delicate Sprigs of Love


He is sitting next to her.

The firmness of her thigh is pressed against his.

There is no light between them.


He listens so heavily

into the heartbeat of her that he hears the murmuring

of aspens on the hillside.


He tells her this.

How could he sit next to her if he didn’t

tell her this?


She is beautiful

in the manner in which there is so much beauty

it almost cancels itself.


I can lie down

in the golden shape of your shadow, he says,

and no longer question myself.


She wonders

if they were just prisoners of the freedom

that brought them there.


Or if to love him

would mean waiting for promises, lying awake,

in the draft of crossing stars.


They kiss

and though he is still alone in the fear that no one will ever kiss him

he is sitting next to her.


Broken Jar


The heart wanders

then it questions itself.

Pleasure, then the horror

of guns and tanks in Syria.

We’d rather ghazals

in moonlight.  The turn of a face

as she disappears around

the corner.  The desire for peace

while war runs its poison

alongside.  Each morsel

of tranquility more precious

as memory chimes in

with hot Louisiana days,

lemonade, and mother

at the piano.  I’d like to think

what memory wants us

to think, sitting securely

on its fence post

lifting particles of light

from the broken jar.

But the world is beyond us

even as we live inside it—

The sun comes and goes.

The moon breathes and circles us

with reflected light, 

while the soul holds the body

carefully in its arms

as we walk through the perforated dark.




My father used few words.

He moved fearless

from task to task as if

they were meals to be eaten.

Our house grew inglenooks

from the imagination of the carpenter

he became.


From tree limbs of summer

I watched him tote

and saw, driving nails

with the same muscles

that lost baseballs

over West Texas outfields.


Leaves turned.

Snow fell.

All that whiteness

came.  Standing

in the emptiness of transition

he spoke

imploring wisdom.

Then, when the inkwell went dry

he reached with great and somber hands

to turn out the light.


Offenbach’s Barcarolle


He wondered why he chose

what he chose to remember,

his mother playing Barcarolle

on the piano—

the sad arrangement of notes

that made his tummy go wonky—not

remembering her practicing,

every perfect note a performance.


He remembers the girl

down the alleyway who told him

adding soap to Kool-Aid

was a way to expand

the taste.  Her soft eyes.

He’d believe anything she said.


Cardboard boxes he made

into houses his cats wouldn’t

live in.  The rich blossoming

of wisteria.  Prunes

he tried to feed the dog.  Learning

that longing glances

don’t mean what they seem.


The weather freakish enough

for snow in Texas.

Drivers insane with laughter

sliding into the ditch.  The boy

thinking this life was

the one life

he would always lead, mother

at the kitchen table,

dad tinkering in the tool shed,

the strains of Barcarolle

in his brain.


Burma Shave


Crescent of soap

in the dish, absence

where the brushstrokes

brushed, weeks

like that, and then my wife brings

this new cake—Burma Shave,

new lather, old idea,

the way road signs

could be broken

into chains of small


aphorisms that went down

in pieces,

a barber who

could make his tie wiggle,

eyes go wall-eyed—little tricks

derived from enough time

and resource to entertain,

facials, boot black,

something of color

in a bottle that splashed

when you shook it,

orange blossom, rose

water, the men

in their shirts, their short

hair, characters

who wouldn’t know

the play had finished its run

but for this new cake

in my dish,

its aroma, its texture,

its name against my skin.


I Tie Knots in the Strings of Memory


and tighten them against forgetting.

They cannot imitate her hungry look,

eyes glazed, lips parted, but they prevent

imperfect forgetting.  With my fingers

I choose what I own of the past,

arranging flashes of light

the way a movie wants to be told,

part accuracy, part fiction,

part what the body wants to keep

of its bumblings in this world,

late at night when it pans the past

for gold, the lines tangling and un-

tangling in the swift undertow

of the strong passing current.


Creekside at Smith’s Branch


Along some creeksides

twists of stone lie


among the shale

and the lime, like secrets


a girlfriend wants to tell—

ammonite, trilobite,


toothpaste squirts

with a frozen history.  My horse,


old but spunky, I ride hard

against the hills and banksides.


Needing rest and grazing

we spread a blanket of hours


in which I play geologist, absorbing

evidence like globes of light


shining on old texts.

Doesn’t everyone want to know


what is permanent in this world?

I thought I knew, yet one night


beyond this low water bridge,

a girlfriend made love


to another man.  Permanence, then,

nothing more than a teen-age


illusion, dissolving in creek water—

car lights down, the night sky


hemorrhaging, the little fossils

inconsolable in their powdery beds.


Another Side of Transgression


He thought of all the time he wasted

being good.  Clutched by the guilt

of excellence.  Polite.

Well-trained.  But when

the long summer afternoons came,

too hot to move

from the window fan, scent

of vapor rising 

from water jackets, he found pleasure

in doing the nothing that had no regrets—

wasted afternoons

under the Wisteria vine when no one

was watching.  Aroma thick

as a breeze on his shoulder.

Thinking of women constantly, forgetting

to water the chickens

in the barn.  He was beginning to feel

the release of duty, to feel

what it’s like to feel.

Demands waiting like barking dogs

at the periphery.  His good intention

to visit the sick woman

falling aside

as he listened to the rattle of starlings

in the rafters—discovering that strange lightness

of the body.  And the new importance

of oak branches

where they separate from the trunk.

How far out the leaves

begin to spread.

The startling arrangement

of moss

like whiskers without discipline.

The long plains of earth

reaching to the clouds

behind the back yard fence.

How the ground pushes back when you walk.


Na Trang


 My brother straps on his webbing, his belt,

his canteen, sidearm . . . gone

are the colors he was—blue jeans,


white shirt, sweet potato skin—

he is so deep in camouflage

even his blue eyes


are like cinders.  He climbs

to his bunker,

mushroom of concrete and divots,


ear to a shortwave

that sneezes facts and lies

that no one can remember,


each moment of cigarettes and coffee

possibly the last.  Nothing

could have prepared him for this . . .


. . . death little more

than the morning news.

Something happened to him there.


I don’t know what it was but

it taught him how to leave this life

real easy, bowing to the side


to let the train he was riding

pass on by.  After that,

death was just another order to obey,


flat, like a paper command,

a switch to turn off the static

they jammed down his ear.


Having and Keeping here!