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He Reads Every Street Sign Aloud

by Brandon Noel

A vast country on fire, cast with smoke,

the willow tree and the water moccasin


are markers for my spirit, after the path

my feet are covered in quiet burns


but I still have feet. In April, three Louisiana

black churches, pressed down, shaken together, 


hard coals, dots in the southern air at night.

They are my little brothers, my older sisters,


the Passover giants. I write this letter to them.

Be shrewd, my siblings, for now the mountains


you sprout into have only just begun.

Drink the sunflower wine of Jubilee


as you go to face your enemies, and know

their tables are everywhere. Rise, the dark


interpolated yeast of salvation, which rends

its flesh whenever your flesh is rendered.


Generations of seeds, like paving stones, fall from

where you are broken, they cry out under the streets


for the rain, for the green again. I heard it when

I walked through Youngstown and my dad said,


“Everything is a museum to me”, which is a way

of saying that all reformation isn’t eventual.

Brandon Noel (He/Him), lives and works as a machinist in Warren, Ohio. Brandon turned 33 last December and has two daughters, ages 11 and 5, whom he raises with their mother. Most of his writing is done on breaks and brief moments of down time in the factory, and then patched together later as poems. He facilitates an open local writers group called, “The Makeshift Poets” that meets monthly at The Havana House in Niles, Oh.


He has published two poetry collections: Mongrel (2015) and Infinite Halves (2017). And has had poems featured in multiple publications, such as: Door-Is-A-Jar, Kissing Dynamite & YSU’s Jenny Lit Mag.

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May 2019

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