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  • Brandon Marlon

Challenges: Brandon Marlon

Brandon Marlon is a Canadian-Israeli writer. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 275+ publications in 28 countries.

The poems bellow show in a peculiar way the position of an "I" in the world of "we", they are private but at the same there is a yearning for actively shaping interactions with what is surrounding "us". They also enter the realms of transcendental redefining its semiotic heaviness and making it a part of a linguistic playfulness.


Miami Beach

Considering all the eye-catching pastel and neon

of a haven where every building is uniquely named,

where every hour is happy, small wonder

you only realize several days later

that you've been treading all this time

along pink sidewalks cool as the breezy mornings

greeting risers eager for sand and surf,

for the pushback of salty Atlantic waves;

tread nimbly, stroller, else you're bound to startle

scurrying lizards or grazing chickens down below

while high above by rooftop pools loungers

sipping margaritas and mojitos tan

and speakers blast reggaeton like they mean it.

We all don and doff per activities and weather,

usually paradisal, occasionally catastrophic,

luxuriating for a time always too fleeting,

prompting vows to return and explore

even more in sessions of sun still to come.

Las Vegas

If Times Square expanded into a city, a theme park

hub luring wide-eyed comers from all corners

eager to revel in amusements and excesses

contrasting against a spare desert backdrop,

if it were popularized by gangsters and performers

as Mammon's den, paean to hedonism, ode to overkill,

in time infused with the urge to mimic attractions

from elsewheres, establishing thereby a celebration

of imitation, then indeed it would look much like this.

Like toddlers, fulgurating lights insist on

our notice and attention, whelming then fatiguing

even the most spry among the flock.

Easy marks and high rollers alike,

we linger in herds before geysering fountains,

succored by accompanying soundtracks,

inspired to similarly transcend bounds.

Those wearied by debauchery's delights

self-respite by digressing to the rouge gorge

awaiting just west, patient and demure, where

iron-pigmented stones compel meanderers away

from the artifice of signage and avarice of slots,

from acrobatics and pyrotechnics astonishing

sore eyes yet falling short of imbuing an akin

sense of serenity amid grandeur.

Only the Paranoid Survive

Granted, flummery fosters foolery, though

I must insist on the kernel of plausibility

inhering in otherwise farfetched premises,

the possibility beyond the probability

that, should ever it transpire, would unravel

your day else civilization as we know it.

Sure, laugh your head off, I don't mind;

make barbed remarks behind my back

to garner the guffaws of your fellows;

nonetheless will I uphold belief

in the thinness of the membrane

dividing order from anarchy, a limen

so flimsy, fragile, permeable

that it betrays the proximity of nightmares,

of violence ever lurking, waiting in the wings.

How safe can our world actually be? After all,

even "harmony" contains "harm".

And so I eschew the bewilderness altogether

and instead stick to the great indoors;

I crouch and quiver here in the linen closet

sporting a conical tin foil helmet with antennae,

ready and waiting for the onrush of reified fears.

Let us bravely admit, even quietly, even just to ourselves,

that one person's neuroses just might be another's secret

superpower, that the dreaded zombie apocalypse

won't arrive via epidemic but will arise from within,

not an outbreak but a breakout (you heard it here first),

for who knows what evil lurks in the hearts and minds

of well-rehearsed, self-repressed performers?

Everything's hunky-dory till something's gotta give,

then it's every one for oneself. Lest you panic,

permit me to extend an open invitation:

my capacious closet still has plenty of room

between the pillow cases and hand towels

for you and a friend (three professional references required).

Recall how even broken clocks are right twice daily,

and better safe than sorry. See you soon!

The Unvarnished Adventures of a Distracted Lothario

Preoccupied with the solitary and dark task of

cunnilingus, I was struck by the inkling that I

had left the back-left burner on yet again, good grief,

and that when filing my recent tax return I might have

claimed additional and legitimate home office deductions

for furniture, telephone charges, and electricity usage

—no insignificant matter, mind you.

To the sound of syncopated moans it suddenly dawned

on me that dryer lint removal was long overdue,

rather like my public library books on gardening for beginners

and Artaud's early essays (translated, naturally).

Admittedly, as we swung from the chandeliers

with abandon it detracted somewhat from my delight

to note the black mould menacing the ceiling

I just had renovated to the tune of five figures,

damn those overpriced, radio-blaring contractors to hell.

Imagine if you would my mid-coital surprise—which

unfortuitously occurred at the precise moment my privy part,

full-fledged and magnificent, geysered like Old Faithful—

when I coincidentally reminded myself to replace

homogenized milk with soy or almond beverage

on my grocery list, as several of my expected lunch guests

next week are lactose intolerant and vengeful.

Starry-eyed and dazed, my partner appeared especially

stoked by the rigors of our passion and,

on the whole, I wholeheartedly concurred,

cognizant of the benefits of productive diversion.


Treating others as you initially intend and prefer,

not according to their behavior towards you, and

distinguishing the person from the person's behavior

are sibling challenges interacting humans face,

trials at times excruciating, impossible, beyond even

the saintliest and most angelic amongst us.

When is the high road too costly due to its toll?

At what point do actants become identical

with their chronic conduct?

Anger ever endeavors to devour

and so often succeeds, sapping our best selves,

warping our poise, caging our grace.

We are the guardians of our own quiddities;

none else preserves the respectable self-image

each of us cherishes and aims to reify time

and again lest we mar the mirror's reflection

with blemishes unbecoming.

And yet, when goodwill goes unreciprocated

or we tire of the same harms inflicted

by the same unrepentant perpetrators,

how shall we marshal and deploy - even while

teetering on the fulcrum of the moment -

our immanent equanimity, refinement, self-possession,

or a ladybug's admirable imperturbability,

and thereby transcend baser instincts

anchoring us to the seabed's depths?

Such struggles are unmonopolized; much remains

to be gleaned from sages and elders, dignity's paragons

whose exemplum models a mechanism for coping,

a method for discernment, promising the hope

of edification, relief for those conscientious.


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The image of Quasimodo is by French artist Louis Steinheil, which appeared in  the 1844 edition of Victor Hugo's "Notre-Dame de Paris" published by Perrotin of Paris.


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