local_library The Improbable Life of M.

by Jeff Brown

Published in Issue No. 13 ~ June, 1998

day lops off night’s head,
and white butter-
flies spill out like tiny white bloodcells.

most of them float, are lighter
than treesap, but a few fall
to the ground and make the slightest


upon which the dander of ladybugs
mingles with locusts and roaches
and little plastic scorpions
that look very real.

m. walks around the house
in turtleneck and jeans
and says things like: “I have
no patience with the carpet,” or
“I will be going to the store today.”

the salt in m. yearns for home,
causes small holes in m.’s socks.

because it is winter, m. moves slowly
through the kitchen, holding tightly
to drawer handles and looking
out the window often.

a chill seeps into the flowerpots
and some of the dishes in the sink.

“the faithful ceiling,” m. says,
looking up and smiling,
because m. knows the springtime
in the kitchen knives, the sound
and tumble of bumblebees in the butcher block.

a butterfly collides with the window,
making a little smear-spot on the glass.
on m.’s shopping list, m. writes:


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Jeff Brown had this to say about his poem: "i was born in arlington, texas in 1973 and lived there most of my life until moving to boston a few years ago. my poems have appeared in various publications as well as several online forums such as taverner's koans and spoken war. in june of 1997, i was featured in real audio at the ann arbor poetry forum, and i'm currently being featured (also in real audio) at audionet books. it was the coldest and harshest night of winter when i composed "the improbable life of m". sonny bono had just died, and, on the cover of a monthly news periodical, i noted a title which read "the improbable life of sonny bono". the phrase struck me quite profoundly. what makes a life "improbable"...? for m, hope lurks just around the corner, but he/she is suspicious of it and suspects it of catastrophe and ill-omen, trusting, instead, in those things that are unreliable such as the ceiling or the shopping list. but, as the poem draws near its end, there is some question as to whether or not the approaching spring is just another manifestation of m's tottering existence..."