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"Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard." Anne Sexton 

Heather Brager is a critically acclaimed juggler of calamity, an accomplished procrastinator, and shuffler of idioms. Her poetry and drawings can be found in various digital and print journals around the globe, and on the web.  She currently resides in New England and prefers the precipice of where the Atlantic meets the sand to the official looking office where she spends most of her time. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I could find her in a crowd
deep eyes spilling dark and flashing
lips too red, speaking muffled rhetoric
and her skin, the
soft brown leather, oiled
coarse hair twirling down and brushing your hands
as she looks back
or forward and through

it's a flash and a flicker
she's faint and has no light of her own
deem me silly, scared or soured
in spiteful jealousy
and still, I see her legs
pantyhose snagged just above
her right knee
strut a little too shaky in her
three inch heels
I can smell her
the sound of her blouse
damp with false pride
her crime is manipulation

but you don't really trust me
and she doesn't see
how could you both
blinded by your lives
the spiritual, covert operations
drowning down and out
and through
your new galactic sea

and she doesn't know I exist
but with her fuck-me jeans
and your house on the lake
you never told her of your false affections
of your sad affliction
and still somehow
she wanted to be me

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

To yield.

It can be heard in that distant soliloquy
somewhere in the mind’s blinking eye
maybe the third or something vaporous and celestial
as a quick catch in the smooth cream colored fabric
silky, woven with care by a real woman
speaking with her hands
of these voices of reason
in duality’s treasonous, poisonous breath
questioning the wherewithal by challenging the comforting rasp
this, possibility’s grand adventure
and her damp words on your skin
crawling the curves and arching with appetite
of unyielding presence

it can be heard, in the distant echo of requirement
this may be the time to arrive
this may be the destination blending fire
with defenseless sprouting seeds
these assets visible before they are drawn
dissolving a doubting landscape with maturity
challenging you to grasp the filament
to watch it blossom and unravel

Touching the art.

just moments before in a stark white museum
echoing silence from ceiling to floor, sterile and bare
but this breathtaking scene on the wall
this architecture of layered blues
with violent red
scarlet tresses climbing off the canvas
in smears just asking to be licked
and her father’s voice whispering rules into her left brain
without hesitation, her arm reached out
fingers splayed tips exposed, despite the alarms
she expected the paint to be wet

months before in a lucid dream
his beautiful arms bare, brown and smooth
in the burning barren, desert sun
ancient tribal tattoos
in raised patterns cut into his forearms
curved by the sepia tone landscape and a river only heard
she, without contemplation
she reached out with burning fingers to slide slowly
across his wet skin
and it mattered not
who was this man

years before in a child’s curious wander
spying a soft winged moth the size of her heart
deconstructing with awe and innocent wonder
in powdered patterns of camouflage and a perfectly round eye
staring back and taunting
until her finger traced the image
and then leaving behind an iridescent dust
it flew up and away with an impressionist's smile
drawn on her mind

Endurance test.

inside of yielding skin
the human pelt electric
with the impulses of depravity



in vacant bones
the heart constructed
and engineered
a compulsory





just like every
crawling animal
and every other
solitary impostor

do livestock dream
of golden pastures
the fish of rushing seas
birds of ancient cityscapes
or the snake
of his former sheath

sinuous fibers
patch them together
capillaries and gray matter
the false reminiscences
of places been
cells converged
and fluids bartered

only to end
frame and flesh
trapped in the cage
of this
lonesome day

Fear of heights.

my feet are leaden
on a glassine suspension
peering down on the breath, of life
carved in butter

my steps are thunder
hovering over a sleeping babe
and limbs, an agitated bull
surrounded by the finest

an engine overbuilt
at a perpetual red light
and several merging exits
take turns passing, in solitude

this, the nomadic empathy
on an elevated plane
and the neon arrow blinking:
you are here

What Remains.

the room was dim and double deep

echoing with dirty concrete and unfinished drywall

hollow of the temporary pauses

of entrances and exits and the roar of motors

with a door twice the height

when standard was all

that had ever been necessary

a driveway of soft new asphalt

fresh and delicate gardens beside

and two kneeling together with gloved hands

removing their weeds

pluck by pluck

making rows for neat disposal

because they had gone

broken remnants remained

of paint cans

frozen and half empty

streaked with the colors of abandoned rooms

and boxes of odds and ends

tossed into the brimming trash can

that had been previously crushed

by the garbage truck


there was often a shadow on her wall
shifting to accommodate the varying glow
swaying for the sake of movement
tormented by passing headlights
echoing through drops on the pane

there was often a shape in the darkness
watching vigilantly her every move
bending to form and then to vanish
plotting like moonlight cactus
to fade harshly with the rise of the sun

there was often a presence in her room
sounding empty as a leaking faucet
dissipating into the vapor bound
in cyclical return at 3:00 a.m.
to drip torture her awake again

System failure.

she would whet her lips
with a human tongue
robotically transfixed
with empty regard
her mechanical cells
would struggle
to convert
trying hard to contain
the breaks
in each line
but the force of accrual
would cause gears
to seize
in her momentary

her particles are sliding
through the air
enveloped in desiccated time
and her softened elements
rear their heads
while they mouth the words
“does not compute”


you pushed
through my door
all smooth talkin’ and swagger
a formidable life
composed of circumstance
and waylays
yet I tried to adore you
with your rerun scripts
of moonlit nights
and early morning swims
so affably allowed
despite setbacks
and pretexts
because springtime
always comes
and you made me coffee
with my french press


the northern face is frozen
with sheer cliffs jutting out of the dirt
skyward as they stab the darkened overhang
of chemicals, vapors and grit.
if she squints her eyes just right
in the rising light she is not alone
and rocks take form and move in pace
as she climbs the miles of vacant trails.
soundlessly a shimmering green snake
slowly shifts across her steps
a winding path that is hers alone
but shared by many counterparts.
somewhere above her head
she will pause to drink chilled air
evaporating quickly back to earth
as she wonders if memory serves her well
and if summertime will ever return.

The voices.

the words of clarity
whispered to her
with intermittent bursts
they spun around
the rear of her head
but she chose to listen
when she felt thirsty
and pushed them away
when she was full

the words of trust
crept inside her pores
slithering within her ears
so she dodged and shook
but still could hear
then tossed them away
pulling bits from her hair

the words of faith
oscillated her mind
her right brain coaxing
and her left brain
smacking her upside
her pretty little head
until she grew weary

the words of hope
crawled deep inside
her smoldering heart
she forced her intellect
around their bulk
trembling with conviction
and found a way to begin

Springtime in her garden.

it is the flower that often falls
with a leveraged snip of sheers
and those frigid planes she’d lick
with slow and easy deliberation
if you reached out and handed them to her

soft and supple as a pussy willow
her roots dig deep beneath the soil
and she’d wrap them around you
with startling strength
as she pulled you steadily through

green boughs in an airstream
she’d bend, sway and succumb
dripping incoherent sap
while stroking every tender risk
with the burning buds of her fingertips

calm as blushing cherry blossoms
billowing in a sugary breeze
she’d splice her limbs to feel your bones
with only a gust of hesitation
as you'd close your gate to fence her in

Take One.

there was a divergence
within the ease
it wrapped itself comfortably within
dotting the page in a 12 point font
it told itself that every day
would start anew
that the dawn would open the doors
that the sun would burn away the fog
it told itself that it would no longer
have to chase its tale
there were pages
that had been written
the words projected vivid scenes
on the ceiling above the bed
inside its eyelids and within
the compartments of its heart
were reels of its own actors
playing the appropriate parts
acting out simplicity and disparity
in a perfectly imperfect loop
there was aching tenderness
in the awkward silences
it threaded itself through the scenes
weaving a story’s chapters
without consecutive order
it jumbled in its assonance
and it stumbled
through each sentence
it focused on time and space
and what was needed
to accurately portray
it hoped the absent pages
weren’t permanently delayed


the clock had stopped
and she tapped the glass
with her early morning fingers
the sun would rise
and her internal timer was set
to robotic repeat of talks and ticks
thinking this is the point
while she sipped her coffee
too hot to gulp but it was friday
and her week on week off
was the host of some simple focus
she wasn’t afraid
of much of anything anymore
and started her car
with a cold key
the destinations she had outlined
in her five year plan
had dropped off the margins
the reasons she had come and gone
were all that she had left
to justify the new shoes
it was time who knew
she was the only one in the room
and who had any reason
to expect an outcome

Her truth.

not soft petals crushed
by the unmistakable weight
or pounding rains

not unfurling tendrils
of diminutive growth
trampled underfoot

above a wind
then a calm

beyond dryness of drought
burnt by the sky
and past the fury
of what still stands
by design

not with brief scent
of an orange lily
or splintered sapling ghosts

but with nature's
force and fervor
and of the earth
from which they grow

Monday, March 29, 2010

early morning frame of reference.

frames slow to frozen
three squares across and three down
we are here for now

the air is heavy
lights dim and your hands are soft
with six hours left

waking before dawn
the cats are showing us why
we are all alike


there are drips

from the eves

and flashing glow

on quiet walls

in random repeat

he may never

enter this space

while these patterns


red paint splatters

down the hall


complex words
and conjugated verbs
heard from behind worn covers
extracted from shabby
dog-eared pages
his tired socks on the coffee table
threadbare fatigues
filled with holes
and the stains on his hands

suspended in time
and trapped by ranks
spouting Vonnegut aloud
in his amber moment
viewing commerce through
blue bucolic eyes
debating separations of church and state
without judgment of color
but textures and views
carving mythology from origins
of the culturally innate
interpreting Hemingway, Campbell
Camus and Twain

reflecting the intellect
of a girl with her hair
wrapping her fingers
consumed by thoughts
on the philosophy of art
the efforts and strife of validity in a fight
of the surmounted generation
developing her foundation
in his depiction
of existential life

The nature of things.

with subterranean inhalation
a virtual diaphragm pulsed and translucent lungs expanded
a blackened universe swallowed
and with a forceful gulp, pushed down
a swill of dust and water
spun an atmosphere enveloped earth
encompassed the mountains standing
eminently, bold and sullen
ingested the swirling sea in a brazen attempt
to consume the creatures swimming within
swimming, noiselessly naïve

they motioned like machines
rambled like killer instinct
floated like swollen seeds in a dog-day breeze
implanted the soil with their hasty impertinence
and then washed their hands
with vestal tongues
and manufactured phosphates

and yet they breathe
the ants and vermin, birds and humans
cold and wet living things
convulse beneath the facade
soar above the fertile land
barely scratching the surfaces
unaware, that which devoured them whole
has left them inspired and exposed

The parts make a whole.

she was

a rattle in the chest
of a sleeping child
and the red velvet
of a dress pressed neatly
below the knee

she was

a mosquito hum
in a mother’s ear
and the kneading
of skin on the ass
of a bold eyed temptress

she was the quiet
of warmth
and of muffled covers
and the slice of a blade
above his naked bones

she was the scene
through a window
with the darkness
in his breath
and the light that fell
across an empty floor

she was

Eating words.

they sit across the table
as you rearrange your napkin and your bent fork
with cold hands and your bound life
you are swallowing and aware
with the rise and the fall of your covered breast
you count the distance from here to there
buffered by the hum of voices around you
droning the things you used to bemoan
they sit across the table wondering
why you’ve gone and where you’ve been
and why you are chewing
with your mouth open
while damp eyes draw patterns
of moments in time on the wall behind
that is covered with a child’s fingerprints


the current yawned
and pushed her sighs
over empty and barren wastelands

soft iridescent wings
were caught, held and elevated
with migrant simplicity

projecting all directions
no purpose and no question
of unmapped intentions

high above ground
over infertile precipices
they drifted inside grace

the current stretched
and blinked her eyes
at their vanishing blue escape


What do you want from me?

glossy eyeing me dark
and bitterly reflecting
as if there is something
I could actually give you
differently to drown out
to just tie me up
and sugar coat me

from the sidewalk, her hair shines justice in the sunlight off buildings scraping the sky

eyes breathe what cannot be seen through the shells rambling zombie-like

warping in and out of time like dreams captured in shared glasses of red wine

What is it that you actually need?

moping around
with your little black cloud
tethered to my half empty cup
shuffling along cynically
mind fucking me
leaning up top considering
your arms out and leaping
watching the edge from below
mouth wide from the street

from the air, her views are softened by the dewy glow of early next year’s emulsion

judgment suspended, deeply pillowed with no concern until awakened by needing hands

where is this place, this pulsing controlled environment smelling of late morning breakfast

A long year.

there were evaluations
outside of boundaries and abrupt severances
of former arrangements
coupled with sordid calculations
of the future disguised as the present
playing the part of the now
wrapped in deceiving guise

and his was a life lead inside of his own head
spurring affections through supple distractions
of high magic and unworldly meditations
with the stars and the moon
in perfect configuration
to balance all of the power in the universe
on her hot little fingertips

and time rolls and ticks and the sun rises and sets
while she impatiently waits for clarity
to grip her neck tightly
and he occasionally removes
the pictures from his safe
to examine her heart on the page
that she extended far beyond
her years and his comfort


she is unexpectedly near
sultry by his lubricious stare
as she pulls on her stockings
with corporeal measure
an abrupt seam scaling calves and thighs
in faintly varying command
as her soles slide into four inch heels
smooth with a delicate strap

she will emerge unrestrained
with her locks unfastened
and his deep jagged glance
feeding her subtle sway
consumed by the risk of curvature
sheer black lace visible only by sense
in fluid drifts she will drown
in his molten omnipresence

The long delay.

this tenderness has teeth

your mouth reaching for elucidating words
a soul caught in humming vibration
this heat map burning with sinuous tincture

you need to climb inside his chest
with fingers pulsing and hunting friction
on his skin’s charged electrical system

you close your eyes to search his mind
with a heart bound inside his hands
the famine emerges fully visceral

as he clutches your heart’s arrest


what were you
but a pink sunrise
above a distant mountain top

a pausing beacon
in the darkness
guiding me nearer a safe harbor

a bending limb
to rest my weary wings
on a long and tedious flight

and when I alighted

your bough

your shore

your sullen
mountain peak

the view was of you
looking back at me

It all comes from the same thing.

these pages are rectangular, colorless and sharp like the edges of the box in which they are hidden. this place where the yielding flesh of a woman is reserved and protected from the acrimony of a bitter world. and through my beveled glass the view is obstructed and time is complicated happenstance. many stolen years are misplaced and labeled as hygienic experience and dropped to the floor as lessons learned.

the link to you is glaring with putrid light and i force myself to turn away from this want, for you don’t owe me one thing. these debts are my own from some territory in pasts overlapped where the sky was a different shade of quiet gray. so we begin again with the cyclical movement that reflects the seasons, knowing that offspring will hatch and sprouts will return from underneath the dirty ice. we wake and wash and stretch and breathe with the knowledge that the sun often rises to pay us back what we have earned.

Who she is.

the feminine is not
the shape and arch of a toned physique
nor the flex of muscled arms and petite belly in taut skin
her beauty is not
the proposal of available sex
or the pheromone gist
and embodiment of eager youth

temptation’s awareness bites this fruit
the souls of many embodied, supple in divine flesh
Durga ridicules the self indulgent simplicity
and Penelope mocks
the modern lovers' antiphonies

for a sonnet echoes within her every curve
she is nurturing and time, sustenance and bequest
there is strength in her awareness
and power in her words
and the quest is to possess
her very existence

Nothing more.

will you even know this woman
standing alone under the endless sky
you swear she is the vision from a civilization past
you wish she’d follow time with the drums in your chest
you know she is not falling
in time with your rhythm

she's been here before
despite refusal to recur
she wants nothing more
but for you
to wrap her in the folds
of your diagnostic mind
strike the pulses agonizing from your fingertips
tie her securely
with the fibers of your measured

she longs to coax your heart
free of your ribcage
if you would just set it in her lap
she'd want nothing more from you

The missing piece.

when he dusts off his wounded knees
stepping back from an edge sharp with attempts
after scaling up and over to a subsequent stage

his tired eyes avert his own callous reflection

if only he allowed this sweeping sanction
to loosen within his torso
he would be handed acquiescence

when he stands looking out
forward across the empty plains
upward to the softening, velvet sky
and back to his past of vacant realities

his eyes drop down
from a segmented purpose
and he is puzzled with pieces of his life
spliced together in selfish haste

if he continues trudging onward
with the stride that wakes him each morning
with the trust that wraps its arms
around his smiling children

his reflection will become whole
his vision, a bronzed speculation
his puzzle, an unadulterated home

A simple matter of physics.

it began as many things do
with a sharp intake of breath
possibility fluttering about
and the silent, irrational utterance
of cynical language

it began as a notion dodging
through an inner space
packed full of wasted remnants
fickle mysticism, ten o’clock news
and useless constraint

it began with no precise need
for a compass, or a map
for the odometer’s calculated speed
or a thermometer’s
measured heat

it simply began
because every good story
wishes its quintessence
and every action
must be set into motion

What is this?

if we define and distill this essence
in an imaginary amber bottle

if we contract and stoop to skew our form
and crawl within the confines of a single word

will we compile each consecutive moment

hoping that somewhere the apex houses
that pure and sweet concentrate
of our positions
no longer diluted
by excessively controlled

but this deliberation is filtered
by our own twisted perspective

is the goal to travel to some
predictable and untainted destination

a holy matrimonial development
that irrefutably will drip
with lament

isn’t joy captured within the awesome voyage

there are snapshots to be taken
and views to be savored

as our amber is unearthed
and our world becomes
a variable blend


her fingers were wintry and the hands
slightly unstable as she pulled across his back
extending rough associations
while hoping to identify the lever
the button or the release

time was irrelevant there
tenure shrouded by a murky veil that seemed obscured
in quiet moments and other times
an echoing steel and concrete barrier
entirely unscalable

there was an exhale of pauses
and low utterances in the unpretentious union of limbs
buried in the rhythmic motion
of sunrise and dusk
sunrise and dusk

there was pressure in her ribs
with the weight of reachable worlds fixed to liberation
of things to be tied
all taste and smell and sight
swimming in fragile forms
of delicate risk

there were many segments drifting
within a center she vowed hesitation would not visit
with its distant face peering both in
and outward
from the interior
of her unhinging trapdoor

Time spent waiting.

her elusive dreams had
been captured and released

through days, sprung from cages
with bated anticipation

through nights, slumped through
unparalleled disregard
withdrawn guarantees
falling behind
undefined spaces

for she’d made a practice
of tempting fate
and folding
with each rise of the sun
she held onto her breath
hoping to pass go, holding

she was told ‘don’t forget to stroke
your carefully placed projections’

on repeat, time left her there
while she put her pawns away

The familiarity of water.

it’s a sodden trail
again today
appearing as soft and soaked
as the river’s edge
when the torrent
a line is waving parallel
but the water’s long gone
someplace downstream

there’d be sugar
on her lips
if not for half moon bites
of a bland sandwich
scanning across
the swell
she waits for a juicy bit
but she never quite
cuts through
the fat

it’s just that tender rub
that place
slightly beyond
her clear line of sight
it’s over a decade
a never-reaching step
and the piece she missed
because the water
made her
feet numb

To Be.

she could be an artichoke
a complicated vegetable
with a spongy heart
protected and covered
within many
perplexing layers
of greenish walls

she could be a manuscript
on a handcrafted
antique mantle
a book of words
spilling random
scraps of social discrepancies
but shrouded by tender
and unexplained sentiment

she could be a cavalcade
of haphazard deposits
not-so monochromatic
sedimentary residue
she could be both
the royal queen
and the rusty skeleton key
tucked snuggly within
a velvet-lined box
locked deep inside
the walls of a
faraway kingdom

she could quietly marvel
at the simplicity of careless wonder
and the possibility of true love
and the absurdity of the mating rituals
of colorful birds in migration

but if she could just be
an artichoke
on a simple white plate
steamed to perfection
with some melted butter on top


if softness was a reason
the pressure of sighs
wrists angled slightly
chin tilted a degree of belief
if softness was a reason
and the dawn cast patterns
through dusty blinds
his arms withdrawn slightly
murmuring water dripping
a variance across her back
if softness was a reason
and spring filtered frost
her feet would linger
with naked discretion
and keep this close