“Road” and “Chimney Swifts at Dusk”

Issue 32 by Steve Brammell


Once we followed the others on all fours,

contributing trails through grass and brush

to favorite trees and watering holes

before our spines thrust us up on two feet,

gave us a taste for meat and tools and weapons,

the flame growing ever brighter between our eyes.

We sang to guide us along the lines we dreamed,

familiar landmarks, then continents, taming horses, camels,

the mighty aurochs turned to beast of burden,

the buffalo wading through rice with drooping horns,

saddles and reins and heavy yokes pulling plows,

and when the wheel came spinning down from the stars

it would not be long until path became road,

villages, towns, cities, the maps of empires

drawn on hide and parchment in ink and blood,

commerce and legions, Mesopotamia and India

paving with stone, the Romans linking half the world,

Via Appia lined with cypress, herbs and ruins,

still there after 2000 years.

The bulldozers push through red sand on the way

to something precious, a mine where we will fill

another need, a highway wider than the rest,

rushing west at ever faster speed toward a setting sun.

Chimney Swifts At Dusk

At dusk

the sky is filled

with wings.

My hotel window

on the highest floor

presents a timeworn city

built of brick and stone,

chimneys that once

belched smoke

now wait for them to return,

these sleek birds, black as soot,

mad to devour

the last mosquito and moth.

The tall stack of an old factory

across the street

blurs as I watch

the swifts spin

like a whirlwind,

then become a genie

funneled back into its lamp

when a dark hand

conjures day to a starry end.

About the Author

Steve Brammell

Steve Brammell has written for Alabama Magazine, Birmingham Magazine, and other publications in the past. Since returning to his native Indiana he's published poems in RavensPerch, Northwest Indiana Literary Journal, White Wall Review, The Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Write Launch, Flying Island Journal, Cathexis Northwest Press, and others. He lives in Indianapolis and works in the wine business.