Photo of a man writing on paper with coffee cup on the table

Three Poems – Brannon O’Brennan

Canards from Close Relatives

A fool and their money are soon parted, a father taught her.
Also, to mind her pots and pans during table discussion.
Your children love me more than you, said a mother.
You’re wasting your life, said a brother.
What you do is shit, said a husband during a too loud fight for too young ears.

She got better than she gave because she knew we were watching.

Childmind painted a portrait of a listless, lean woman looking out into the eternal woods from a recliner.
Frozen branches broke off under winter weight.
Taking others closer to the Earth with them to rot on the ground in the Spring and then start over.
Tearing, then pausing, then crashing, then crashing.

In a winter that did not end.


Functional Funeral

I think people die so The People can cry.
To purge the toxins of accumulated sadness within the acceptable bounds of the social contract.

Already nature has reclaimed and repurposed her as fertilizer for tears.
The solid sheet of plate glass indifference that stood the test of time suddenly breaks with the ease of tissue paper.
This one, the bawler who decided everyday not to connect.
That one, the other bawler, incapable of having a lower priority than visiting the diminishing mother in life.
Maler mounds red, wet and bloated.
No training necessary, it just happens. Like all of nature’s best ideas.

The new corpse of the old lady who wondered about her low place in the pecking order finally has no opinion on the matter.
Her inaction is the action.
A highlight reel tells a story no one remembers so The People don’t have to talk amongst themselves excessively.

Thank you, Grandma, for sadness.
Your last gift, your best gift.
At last, something we can use.


Starvation Poems

My father raised my kids.
Though was not much involved with his own.
He was very hands off unless deference was found wanting.
In the climate-controlled room, at the formica table, he provided “free” calories over and over and over. The contribution left a gaping sense of ingratitude that overspilled occasionally from a sea wall of side burned 70’s male grievance.

I never asked him why then he made two mouths instead of stopping at one. There’s darkness in the answer I probably was better off not hearing.

My kids were gorged on the attention and priority I starved for. Stage managed memories so they didn’t get a copy of mine.
But they did, just the second act, strained through me.
And I felt underappreciated.

They will write their starvation poems someday. Hopefully with more grace.


Brannon O’Brennan is a writer living in Fairfax County, Virginia. Five of his pieces have been published in the literary journals Within and Without Magazine, Periwinkle Pelican Lit, and The Rye Whiskey Review. Two more will be published shortly in the White Cresset Arts Journal and Yale University’s The Perch. He is currently seeking literary representation for his upmarket crime fiction novel THROUGHLINE, a novel about a dysfunctional family of outlaws and the effects of trauma across generations.

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