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[Poetry] Three Poems by Jamie Brisick

Updated: 2 hours ago

Love Juices


—Did love whack you over the head, multiple times, even when you least expected it?


—It did.


—Did it splatter you in its juices? Did it send you running to the bathroom for a towel?

Was it sometimes more than you could handle?


—I would say so.


—If you were to assign a color to these juices, what would it be?


—The love juices?


—Yes.


—I don’t know. Red?


—There’s no right or wrong answer. Just go with your gut.


—Okay. Red.


—Did love shower you in its hailstorm, twirl you in its tornado, relocate you in its tsunami? Did it ragdoll you in its earthquake, bowl you over in its Tyson punch, cauliflower ear you its Gracie grapple? Did it drown you in its 100-foot wave?


Wolf Love


—Did love strike like a lightning bolt hurled from a category 3 hurricane over, say, Barbados?


—Yes, but can we make it Jamaica? I'm a big fan of Lee Scratch Perry, and of course Bob Marley is thematically aligned with the love stuff.


—Yes, making a note: 'Jamaica not Barbados.' Okay, and did you default to classically guarded, jaded, male indifference, not unlike Scrooge in the first seven minutes of A Christmas Carol?


—Yes, that was me. We need our Tiny Tims, you know?


—And do heart emojis abound, both mentally and in texts and emails?


—Yes.


—Do you love your mom?


—Yes.


—Your dad?


—Yes.


—Have you ever fallen in love with a slice of pizza, Joe's in the West Village, for instance? Or maybe late at night, mildly drunk, ambling up First Ave, Stromboli on St. Marks?


—Yes. Though I have to say, the love usually involves pepperoni, burnt on the edges. And ideally thick pepperoni. There's a slice at Prince St. Pizza in Nolita that does really thick pepperoni slices—they curl, become waves, half pipes. I’ve ridden them. I’ve felt love. Felt like I could live there, you know? In the shade of the curling pepperoni slice. Then I wolfed it down.


—As we do with love. Wolf love. Big appetites.


—Have you loved a bagel and cream cheese, well-toasted, sesame bagel, the long butter knife turning the cream cheese into something sculptural, in the family of meringue, at, say, Canter's Deli on Fairfax, or Factor’s on Pico?



—Definitely love. Love that requires many napkins, and a waitress named Judith whose delivery of plate on table oozes, for lack of a better description, something profoundly maternal, a squirt of breast milk reimagined into a sesame bagel with cream cheese.



Double Scoop


The Leaning Tower of Pisa has leaned but not fallen for 650-something years


My double scoop chocolate chocolate chip and cookies and cream on a wafer cone lasted less than 30 seconds before tumbling to the floor


Did I cry?


It was something closer to a siren


Was I inhibited by the eyeballs of our fellow customers?


I think I beefed up the drama just for them


I was seven. My stuffy toys had recently moved from the bed to the closet. Some nights I slept with my skateboard. Grandpa called me a ‘biggy guy.’ I resisted mom’s hugs even though I secretly liked them. I had a pet alligator lizard named Rumpy


But the ice cream


Sequence is everything. Put your favorite flavor on the bottom, your second favorite flavor on top. Do I need to explain why?


The cookies and cream and chocolate chocolate chip did not stick together


The chocolate chocolate chip landed on my shoe


The cookies and cream rolled a ways


As if beheaded by guillotine


Dad complained


The server got the manager


Voices were raised and four-letter words were exchanged as I pondered the flavors behind the glass (how would mint chip and toasted coconut pair?)


Dad said, I’m not sure what kind of business you people are running over here, but you’ll be hearing from us


There would be lawyers, a court case, a jowly judge banging gavel and saying, Order in the court, a settlement, a new cedar hot tub in the backyard, a New Year’s Eve party where things got messy, about a year of Dad sleeping on the couch


But first there was a bag of chocolate chip cookies


Bought from the liquor store around the corner


Want one? I asked Dad from the backseat


No, he said. But just, you know, hang on tight this time.



Jamie Brisick’s books include Becoming Westerly: Surf Champion Peter Drouyn’s Transformation into Westerly Windina, We Approach Our Martinis With Such High Expectations, Have Board, Will Travel: The Definitive History of Surf, Skate, and Snow, and The Eighties at Echo Beach. His writings and photographs have appeared in The Surfer’s Journal, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Guardian. In 2008 he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship. He lives in Los Angeles.



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