Fall 2021

The Pocket Stoics

By Bryan D. Price

it brings an overwhelming sense of sorrow not tears but actual pain
I thought about what it would be like to hear a dead partner’s voice
giving a yoga or guitar lesson on youtube like background noise
from another room in a stranger’s house the two of you sleeping
together on the couch something akin to gmail mystically flagging a
seven-year old email from my father that says to me in a knifelike
cadence: yes, room 135 and sometimes it gives me a feeling of solace
like the holy ghost pressing my nose and mouth beneath the surface
of the amniotic bath it may be a synecdoche or representation at
the very least a part or name that stands without resolve for the whole
I don’t know if you can hear me but I am happy to have visited the
world’s second oldest tree dung-covered and alone liquefied by a stiff
rain I packed an ounce of it into a tin made a paste or paint caked it
onto my hands and face forced some into a glass pipe and smoked
it down to the dregs darkened the interiors and kept darkening until
the page was wet with blood dug in the barrows to desecrate the
survivors consider this an epistolary vision about whether or not the
algorithm intentionally cycles ghosts across the lives of the living—
trafficking us in advice from the tomb

I was Driving

to the art supply store or to buy groceries
I don’t remember which but I was driving
and I saw a plane falling from the sky I was
driving and thinking this isn’t normal clear
descending but violence coiled into a fall a
fatal declension more fatal than toxic wild
mushrooms more intense than plague I was
driving and I recognized what I was witnessing
from a dream or several thousand dreams
strung together I was driving and I could not
decide whether to stop or to continue (its
path was unknown to me) if I kept driving I may
end up meeting its impact with the earth and
its leagues of asphalt stone and brick chimneys
bay windows street signs with names like
Narragansett and Amagansett but if I pulled
the car over to avoid entering the blast zone
I may be inviting the leviathan into my own
lap (so to speak) in other words I could not
tell if it was coming for me or if I was heading
toward it but it was careening its nose unnaturally
tilting like the rings of Saturn its tail angled
skyward toward Jupiter and the sky was two
different shades of blue one deep and irrational
the other bright and crystalline I kept driving
but I could not outmaneuver its arc I think I
should stop and run—vanish into the copper
colored hills away from the built environment
heavy with shame I was (I thought) in the
path of the comet being lulled into extinction
like the dinosaurs or puritans who feared the
wrath of God’s face in the form of space debris
and then a voice—no not a voice but a series of
thoughts imprinted on the back of my eyes or
across my auditory canal or somewhere in the
tissue between my brain my nocturnal self my
soul and my mind communicated legibly
to me saying (or intimating) that I should accept
my fate like warm broth over raw tongue and
then I heard whistling from beyond my sightline
almost hymnal like a monkish chant or drones
heard from some forced labor camps it smelled
like alliums and then like freight train like
engine grease and oil and I could see straight
through believability right into happenstance

Nonlinear Memoir

late in the day maybe early pink sky in bed cultivating transmissions with watery gray 

looking through the book of words and phrases in the bath with the Cyclops trying 

to draw out the primal scream paintbrush gripped between my knees just in case 

there are no mirrors—no face to contemplate or glass to employ I wouldn’t expect 

you to understand or be understood the task of the biographer is to differentiate 

between mountains and sea this is from a vision or recollection I have of Anna 

wearing a green hospital shirt saying take care not to hurt yourself—a dream and not 

a dream or covenant between being and wanting to forgive the snow for falling… 

Bryan D. Price’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Posit, DMQ Review, New World Writing, and elsewhere. He is a part-time history instructor who lives in San Diego with his wife, a dog, and a cat named for Pina Bausch.

Fall 2021