February 2000

Steven Ford Brown


Stephen Ford Brown Steven Ford Brown is employed in the European Equities Department of an international investment firm in Boston. His poetry and translations have appeared in The Colorado Review, Christian Science Monitor, Harvard Review, Marlboro Review, Poetry, Quarterly West, and Verse. Excerpts from his translation of Astonishing World: The Selected Poems of Angel Gonzalez, 1956-1986 (Milkweed Editions, 1993) were included in The Vintage Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry, edited by J.D. McClatchy (Vintage/Random House, 1996). In 1998 he gave a bilingual reading with Angel Gonzalez at the Americas Society in New York City.

Angel of Loneliness    Click to hear in real audio

I was suspicious because the place
the agency sent me didn't look like
any other place I had been before.
And I became even more suspicious
when they issued a uniform made from
parts of dead angels. I tell you it made me
nervous as I put on the uniform, washed
my hands in the sink and looked up to see
myself in the mirror painted in fluorescent
light and wearing parts of dead angels:
a broken wing protruding from the collar,
a robe of smoldering rainbows and wounded
meditations, a sulfurous misty weather enveloping
my head and shoulders. They had also given me
a handbook, The Encyclopedia of Loneliness,
listing and defining the ten thousand kinds
of loneliness in the world. I was told to study,
to prepare, there would be a test. Suddenly,
all of my momentary thoughts about nobility
in the midst of a crisis evaporated when I
returned to the offices as the supervisor walked
me down a long corridor of secretaries and minor
accountants to a door that opened to reveal a huge,
cold warehouse filled with ten thousand versions
of myself hanging from meat hooks, dangling
in smoldering angel rainbow robes of wounded
meditations. Turning to leave he directed:

This is where you work.



The Miscalculations of Love    Click to hear in real audio

I am dyslexic in love and in the middle
of argument in which we angrily doubt

the other's fidelity my lover says, rebuke.
I hear Dubuque, immediately think Iowa,

and so lie down and become a city in the great
plains of the Midwest, hoping to achieve

cooperation and engagement in negotiations
designed to achieve mutual cease-fire.

But even as I lie here—she looking down at me—
I sense my disadvantage and apologetically offer

to become a captive city besieged by moonlight.
I decide that by gaining her symphony, I mean

sympathy, I'll gain the upper hand. But as I lie here
feeling like Dubuque, Iowa with a garbage strike

and bank robbery in-progress, she explains she
really said, rebuke, and that I, a grown man, look

silly lying there pretending to be a besieged city.
With foot on my chest she plants her flag.

And I am conquered.




Steven Ford Brown: Poetry
Copyright 2000 The Cortland Review Issue 10The Cortland Review