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 Steve McDonald from Credo


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About Steve McDonald

Step 1

The universe is made of stories,

not of atoms.

—Muriel Rukeyser

Saturday mornings I surfaced to voices

of children in the other room, then sank again,

slipped into the green and brown algae-bloom

of sleep, the world above growing darker,

the stories fainter, until I couldn’t breathe—

didn’t want to anyway . . . Disappearances:

the way Chaucer’s life ended, no record

of how or where, of funeral or burial.

The way Bierce passed into silence

beyond Chihuahua, or Weldon Kees,

his empty car at one end of the Golden Gate.

Once, in a visitors’ center at a women’s prison,

I read a child’s storybook to inmates,

illustrations blue and gold cradled in my palms—

a bear, a mouse—wide-open eyes of lifers

brimming at the well of story, arms wrapped

around each other, the dried flower of cheek

against cheek, the way my sister one day

after school pressed her face to mine, whispered

the story of a grimy man who’d followed

her home on a bicycle, weaving like a drunk

from street to gutter, muttering his lewd

invitations, how our father, alarmed,

patrolled the streets for weeks, searching

for a monster, she admitted years later,

she’d created from nothing. Would it surprise

you to hear she had come to believe her own

story? That for years a man with teeth broken

and yellow had cycled through her dreams?

Perhaps you have seen him—as have I.

Today, in a shed behind a church, I sit

at a splintered table, shovels and hoes

hanging from hooks, voices rising like golden

fish in a dark pond. I have surfaced again.

I have come to hear the stories, to tell

my own, to see if by coming I will come to.


She’d asked, What do you believe?

He flicked wrecks of yellowed leaves

from rain gutters rimming the eaves

of her house, his two gloved hands

heavy and soaked. Her pale fingers

gripped postcards of glaciers,

the gray-black waters off Sitka,

the spawning salmon of Ketchikan.

He said, The snow there doesn’t melt.

It sifts into crevasses and cracks

in rocks. It piles higher and deeper,

crushed into a saturated sapphire-blue.

His back curved as he turned to a leaky

faucet, a mockingbird screamed its attack,

and she asked again, What do you believe?

A riddle she wanted to solve, he knew,

raised by the same mother and father,

marked with the same stories of loaves

and fishes, crossed with the same ashes.

32,000 years ago, he said, someone

in Europe carved a star chart of Orion

on a sliver of ivory. He replaced

the worn and brittle washer, moved

to the sprinkler valves. He knelt

in the mud, cut the black plastic casing,

joined red to red, green to green,

white to white. Rubbed his pants

with chapped, bare hands. The sun blazed

like the Eucharist. The wiring, he said.


The mind creates the abyss;

the heart crosses it.


The way the mind releases its relentless grip,

abandons the morphine-induced haze,

the ragged last gasp of breath, surrenders

the children, alone, to the dark theater.

Flesh resists, will not disband itself,

though death, insistent, summons

yet again, the way folds of sleep, as we

awaken, enwrap and urge us back

to dream of life’s audacious leaping.

Sand at the broken edge of ocean

subsumes the thinning sea. Midges

do the rest. Some find comfort in faith.

Some wander the Granite Loop Trail,

lost in scrub of oak or alder. Some

take vows to strip the veil, yoke

signifier to signified. The white van,

for instance, its bald tires screeching,

its side panel oracular: “Alpha Project:

Where Miracles Occur.” And a sign:

Welcome to the Holiday Inn.

Do you wonder why pinpricks of global

dust dance at the edge of abyss?

I have watched a pillar of wax burn

into itself, its sides slumping like a sock

on an ankle. Sometimes it seems just

flesh. Just a brain in a skull, eyes

in sockets, a jaw slung open, no flicker

of light, an abyss only the heart can cross.

Leaving the Parking Lot, I Pass a Homeless Man

only drowning men could see him

—Leonard Cohen

He waits in bee’s bliss and coyote mint.

Ankle-high shrubs crowd the center divide

where the road from the coffee shop slants

into a swell of traffic lights, a flood tide

of turn signals. His hair is dirty, off-white,

knotted at the back. His face sun-weathered.

It’s easy to miss him. The way he waits

as if a shrub or small tree. His eyes feather

the passersby. Blue jeans ragged, a mess

of broken fingernails edging cardboard,

lifting it chest high. Its message: God bless.

Sometimes I look away, silent and hard.

Sometimes I nod, greet him, pass a bill.

Always I see him—as the drowning always will.