Fire in the Brain


God is a fire in the brain Nijinsky said
which is as close to the truth as
anything a dancer might dance
with a bonfire burning in his head

God may put you in a trance
with the fluttering of cardinal wings
or with the way the moon looks
mounting the mountain’s back
on the other side of the river
—a bright hole in the dark
a splinter of hope
a sliver

Sometimes beyond the blazing bars
of your incarceration
you hallucinate stars

You surmise the sun’s a substantiating eye
but fear that every distance is not near
(not close enough to make the untellable clear)

You dream days
You dream nights

Sometimes you lie without a clue
in the hour of the wolf
waiting for the wolf to bite,
or waiting for the blue to light.
When it does you see crocuses

You taste a cloud of honeysuckle
that sweetly drifts across the yard
where at a certain spot
between the garden and the shed
you swear paradise is here
—precisely here where a skunk
shredded grass the night before
grubbing while you were in bed
; grubbing with a skunky conflagration
in her head

God may burn a brain and brand it
God may shrink it or expand it

This is the bed in which
our ignorance reposes which,
by every blister on our brain,
is both a bed of coals
and roses

by Jim Culleny, 1/22/11

“Fire in the Brain” is one of 120 poems in my book
Odder Still, available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble,
as well as Boswell’s Books in Shelburne Falls


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