Marion Brown – Four Poems



Plunging, we tasted salt
sharper than a dream
and, breathless,

still on the tongue,
brine skin. You head first.
I climbed down, cold

like heat, into numb.
We remembered how to touch,
invented strokes we never

practiced—more prickly
on your tongue
my shivering skin.

Gasping air like breathing in
the night, till we floated
shoulders, arms, hands, feet:

into one forbidden city
we sank
and bribed the guards.

Did we go home—
did we ever swim—
frozen in summer ice?


#31 Balboa

I roll with the bus.
This west-bound
route amazes me,
a street where no one
peeks out tight-
shuttered eyes.

Headed far as a trip
goes, passengers jerk
along. No one pulls
the cord or waits by
the curb. In the outer
district, tides tug
the streets. Blocks
stretch long.

Delirious, I slide past
pastel faces, wishing
the ride would not
end, even here, where
armored plates collide.

“Ocean Beach,” flashes
red, end of the line,
the Pacific splashed
on the windshield
and a blaze of sand.

Ripping blinders from
both sides, I see
an endless horizontal
line, azure above,
below, scalloped green.

What I know falls away—
wild surmise.


Saint Of Souvenirs

A traveler pockets smallest pieces.
Beach glass rhymes in shades of amber,
morning sky or beer-green, all grayed,
tumbled in time. It grates her, too.

By design, she cannot tell them, one
from where the other came, sea-salt
effluvia that curls up some Atlantic
beach, whichever side. Channels run

in and away, sea smoothing memory.  
Fingering each bit to guard against
sharp, she learns by Braille the rub
of years and interprets shards

cut off from thirst. She jumbles them
like her old toys, turvy or side by
side, then drops each into a reliquary—
jewels saved by drowning.


Brooklyn March

Wilted balloons caught in trees inflate.
Bare branches web the sky like safety
nets for birds. Cars spill murky water
from pools that swallow nothing back.
They say another city hums beneath
the streets. I can’t read an urban legend
on my phone, the sun’s so bright.
Booted to the knee, a woman steps out
and jaywalks the grid, swinging her hips,
making busy taxis idle. Drivers baby
potholes; letter carriers smile.
Spring heats the skin. Dazzled by the sheen
off the street, I drop my jacket in a heap.
Balloons and pedestrians float higher.


Author’s Statement on Beauty

What a coincidence to be asked to say something about beauty a couple of days after being warned by my colleagues to strike the word from a poem, the very friends who suggested I submit work to Peacock Journal! Following their lead, I won’t attempt to define. Where verse is concerned, music is key. What a poet hears, the vernacular of the street or any other, is crafted with echoing sounds, stresses, pauses, strange words and familiar, which create an opportunity for expectation satisfied and surprise—the delight of language.


A resident of Yonkers, NY, Marion Brown earned a Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. Her chapbooks Tasted and The Morning After Summer were published by Finishing Line Press. Her poems and reviews have appeared in Barrow Street, Stone Canoe, Kestrel, Poetry International and the Women’s Review of Books. “In the Dock, Fagin Reflects” won First Prize in the Portico Library Poetry Competition. She serves on the Advisory Committee of Slapering Hol Press and the National Council of Graywolf Press.