Two poems by Randall Brown

To Your Health

The mouth knows outdated,
occult signs to access
what lurks beneath
skin, breast, the discrete
functions, your neighbors.

The blood provides pressure
to self-exam, to conjure
the physical in whatever:
there must be a measure,
a number over a number.

After monthly, annual divination,
the figures crunch to discern:
Nothing there, in their estimation,
as if that were vaccination
against the primary concern.

I Might Never Learn

This esophageal burning tastes
like shredded Firestones,
a tired ache that settled
in my father’s Adam’s apple.
Extended into sinuses,
eroded cracks, soft fissures,
until he could no longer stomach
margaritas with my mother.

The outlawed repertoire might
leave lesser men impoverished: no
lemon tang, no hot press of garlic,
no avocado butter. Chocolate turned
volatile: no beer, wine, briny cocktail.

But my father relaxed into restrictions:
a kiosk of pots with broth and worms.
Eating without, craving pittance.
But not me, no. I continue to burn.

Randall Brown is the author of the award-winning collection Mad to Live, his essay on (very) short fiction appears in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, and he appears in Best Small Fictions 2015 and The Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction. He blogs regularly at FlashFiction.Net and has been published and anthologized widely, both online and in print. He is also the founder and managing editor of Matter Press and its Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. He received his MFA in Fiction from Vermont College and is on the faculty of Rosemont College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program.