Destroy this Temple – Alan Britt


Destroy this temple & I’ll ice-skate three days
across your godforsaken forehead.

Keep your mantis mitts, your freshly laundered,
beet-stained fingertips off my block of ice.

Keep your bloody collar to yourself.

Keep your Antiques Roadshow jade symbol
of ultimate creator/intellectual swinging
from your nakedness & mine researching the gunmetal
crevices of midday breasts carved to perfection
by razorblades’ florescent blues above the Black Rooster Lounge
hours before our high school quarterback staggered from nearby
liquor store clutching his chest, liver bleeding, emptying his
.38 into posters of German beer models & Southern Comfort.

Cotton puffs the algaed crevices of Mississippi adjectives
& Arkansas verbs.

Fusion of nature & language sheds momentary reality
like smegma or dust from both wings;
I dissect reflections, geometric paradoxes
posing as king & queen. So much for that. The piano
grows shark teeth; goggle-eyed priests patrol the barnacled pilings;
seaweed tilts a young chin toward oxygen; saxophone, dented
& bruised, sax retaining dignity after centuries of humiliation,
& you ask the coffeemaker stainless steel plated with petroleum knobs
to foretell what it’s told to foretell.

Violins lacerate shoulders, bare since birth, bare since
the tortoise & the hare, bare since Joan’s head rolled down
dark sticky movie aisles sponsored by First Federals
& failed National Banks; violins lacerate men with one thing
on their minds: When’s our next meal!

Well, that makes two.

……………….★      ♥      neglect ²     (this is diminished)

Factory farming, factory education,
factory farming, ornamental fur collars
the newest Supreme Court Justice (enemy of the state)
fist sinking below smoking pile
of injustice; woe is she who breaks
the spell sending sisters to the incinerator
before revealing her sterling pattern
of justice, before . . . . before . . . . before
& ages before that.

A 14 carat locket with a cracked heart
is a 14 carat locket with a cracked heart.

Love rips her woolen scarf
from a taxi spraying NYC slush over the curb,
flows into a tavern of nude dancers
& hesitates before positioning her chair
below plastic netting melted on a flickering
candle globe, globe with soot strangling its throat.

Love fluffs her skirt & reveals a diamond netting
of her own. The music
………………………………………….e    makes
the doorman vomit outside. But strobe lights bruise
rattlesnake hips & emancipated breasts undulating
promises of nasty love.

Bombers in the bedroom giving Mick the shits.

Nickname says give me your underbelly;
underbelly says give me a nickname first,
satisfaction guaranteed.

Supreme Court says don’t waste tax dollars
on morality—long-term rewards, notwithstanding,
return on investment is dismal at best,
futile at worst like an Irish match head ripped
from a soggy strip of tavern matches, flap
bent to imitate nihilism that roams the ether world
[to echo a little known German Symbolist
in an age when German Symbolists
were under suspicion for all sorts of crimes:
undressing in public, walking pet lobsters
along the Champs-Élysées (oops),
storing too much rice for the big freeze,
or, heaven forbid, demanding the entire
Gulf of Mexico be returned to its natural state
by calendar year 2014 & counting, not discounting].

The way things are going, I’ll be 2,068,017 years old
before seeing improvement on the humanitarian front,
much less witnessing PhDs in empathy offered
at any public institution.

Lemon-lime parakeet with cobalt smudge on each cheek
scratches newspaper photos of the royal wedding
before its squish of wet putty blinds one grainy royal eye
while the other oblivious eye waves to all the poor bastards
who’ll underwrite her life of extreme luxury for the next
50 years or so, give or take.


In August 2015 Alan Britt was invited by the Ecuadorian House of Culture Benjamín Carrión in Quito, Ecuador as part of the first cultural exchange of poets between Ecuador and the United States. During his visit, he participated in venues all across the country including the international literary conference sponsored by La hermandad de las palabras 2015 in Babahoyo, Ecuador. In 2013 he served as judge for the The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award. His interview at The Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem aired on Pacifica Radio, January 2013. His latest books include Violin Smoke (Translated into Hungarian by Paul Sohar and published in Romania: 2015; Lost Among the Hours: 2015; Parabola Dreams (with Silvia Scheibli): 2013; and Alone with the Terrible Universe: 2011. He teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.

ALAN BRITT: Library of Congress Interview: alan-britt.mp3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *