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Basket Poetry by Kyle Brown


Animal is coming over with a basket of poetry and several bottles of wine. He is more hair than skin and bone. Hair billows out of his denim jacket. Old, tight, dirty jeans hide what we imagine are two legs made of hair stuck together with dirt and oil. Hair hides the deep wrinkles of his forehead. Hair completely envelops his chin and cheeks. Animal bounds into our house with the basket of poetry and shouts for a corkscrew. All afternoon and through the night, we sit on the floor, drink wine straight from the bottle, and read the poems we pull from the laundry basket.
     The poetry is written on napkins, receipts, and torn up cereal boxes. Sometimes poems are written on top of poems. Some lines are crossed out, stanzas split down the middle, and neither the reader nor the listener can be sure of one poem’s end and another poem’s beginning.
     This poem is angry, the pen dug deep into the paper. This poem is sad, it trails off and never ends. This poem is just one word. This poem is written on a receipt for wine and we read it again and again and glue it to the wall.
     When we feel the urge, we wander to the kitchen and write a poem and then feed it into the basket. All the poems are anonymous, but when we recognize our own handwriting glued to the walls, a warmth builds in our chest.
     Animal falls asleep, his beard pillowing his chin against his chest. He shrinks into a tighter and tighter ball until we begin to wonder whether he has ever really existed at all. We read the poem that he grips in his hand and we read it again and again and we glue it to the wall.
     The purple-orange light of morning sneaks through the blinds. We let Animal sleep and pour ourselves out into the crisp air. We read our basket poetry to the still sleeping neighborhood. We laugh like no one is around and choke with sobs of sadness or joy and then quickly shush one another until we stand in silence and point up at the last words we uttered as they dance over our heads.
     
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Kyle Brown is a fiction writer and rock musician. He has a BA in English from Purdue University and currently lives in Indiana. His work has appeared in Wandering. You can try to follow his inane line of tweeting here.