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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. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

love as metaphor.

these flowers we prune,

water, expose to the light,

then string up to die


© 11.20.2017 heather brager

Friday, November 3, 2017

aurora, aurora.


lent to the autumn
gusts, jeweled trees
murmuring truth under
an expectant moon, months
pregnant with probability, rich with
faltering grace, left tangled
in silent spells and threats of
darkness on their heels, oh
breathe, breathe the absence 
hunted and held down
by a silky dawn

they are filling their
cups, hands in milk and
honey, palms upturned
to a charlatan, piercing
all directions at once
aurora, aurora
the truth north, the
transformation a
lightening birth



© 11.3.2017 heather brager


Tatiana Plakhova.

Friday, October 13, 2017

October, begin.

and just like that, all of the endings were
drawn to sea, imaginary burdens pulled deep
under the morning tide as it succumbed to
the shoreline, unlimited power sucked against
my boots, with both feet firmly planted, the sun
finally reached me, warming my skin and hair

and what if truth is actually universal, love
synonymous with struggle the grandiose lie, what 
if pain and sacrifice were only fear hunting me 
down, dimming my irises to pale, sharpening
each edge to arm me against my own quiet
nakedness, my own space under a vacant sky


© 10.13.2017 heather brager

Monday, September 11, 2017

time, doors, and nothing.



I haven’t written you a
poem for several weeks,
not because there are no words,
(but lord knows you never listen)
because broken clocks are only
right twice a day, and broken
clocks are always right, twice a day

I spend a lot of time thinking
about doors, and one morning after
another morning, and how
open doors are something
entirely different to those frightened
of lost time, and of the dark, and for those who
long for damp air on their skin under the
moonlight, wasted time is terror, personified

these doors often lead to secret
passageways, perhaps only
I can see the doors with steadfast locks,
with keys that are not really missing
and you, you are everywhere, standing
in each doorway with your own key hanging
around your neck a delicate noose, around your
neck a clear escape, because an open door 
is just a broken clock



© 9.11.2017 heather brager

Thursday, July 27, 2017

every step echoes.


she will not speak of 
clemency, the remnants of 
your intentions have 
clearly cut scars along 
blue veins in her hands

your poems still sneak 
through the stillness, late 
into the evening, pages
of your handwriting beg
for love, or some relief

with your shirt pressed 
damp against her 
back, she will see you 
standing, waiting for 
joy to swallow, or cleanse time


© 7.26.2017 heather brager

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

the only thing to fear.



"Offer them what they secretly want and they of course immediately become panic-stricken." Jack Kerouac 

I once thought that I
would love every man
I ever loved,
carry his DNA in
my molecules, his words
would gently fold into
the recesses of my
grey matter, imprints of his
hands on my skin like
footprints abandoned in
dried clay, though
I did not account
for wild-eyed fear, that which
drew the lips back to
show his teeth, the
agony of injury that leached
rapidly from his every
pore, the echoes of
desertion rumbling through
vacant space between
our intentions


© 7.12.2017 heather brager


Zdzisław Beksiński.



Thursday, June 29, 2017

take a bow.



perhaps I should not admit how
many times I read the words you 
doled out like cookies 
to a family dog: 

here, sit while I neglect 
your adoration, stay while I repeat the 
patterns that have worn grooves 
in my brain, come to me, come
to me while I dangle affection like 
a delicacy you will never 
place in your hands, let alone between
your soft lips

and there is truth, whether it finds you 
sulking in a corner, or
hunts you down within the 
chapters of a book, because
truth finds us all, in the end

I will never be the monsters who 
abandoned you, I will never be the 
scornful wasp that stung when 
you were convinced that you were trying, 
and I will never be the loving 
woman who brings you coffee and a pastry 
while you sleep late on a Saturday morning,
no matter how hard I long to be 

this story is not really about you
these words are about my willingness to lie 
in the dirt and wait for permission 
to leave, the urgency I feel to restore 
beauty to broken things, the desire 
I use to weld pieces of cold metal together to 
construct a pair of loving arms 
that don’t push me away

Thursday, June 22, 2017

jagged little pills.



the wreckage has been surveyed
many times over, an itinerary carefully
deleted, line by resonant line
the dark ring inside yesterday’s porcelain
cup left on the kitchen
counter, diluted bourbon on
the bedside table next to the Ativan

when did we learn that love was
currency, attention meager
crumbs for starving
beasts, when did we misplace our
own fragile beauty with remnants
of shattered hope and reconstructed
dishes, following each tragedy

you divert your eyes but demand
to be seen, cry out but desire
solitude behind walls you built, but
they will not keep you safe from the
ghosts you have protected
within your rib cage, the terror that
runs you until shadows swallow hard



© 6.22.2017 heather brager


Rafael Duarte Más.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

windsor street.

as I stoop to pick up a 
tarnished penny, time collapses
I am a funeral’s pace, fingers slowly 
scraping the pavement,
hair falling forward in a 
fluid motion, gently
stroking the back of 
my freckled hand

from behind my eyes I 
am watching, blurred sparrows stealing 
crumbs from beside the curb, a bus stop
woman fanning herself with a 
crumpled magazine, I am
peering across the baked-hot parking lot at 
myself, an anonymous woman, lost 
and still losing, a little girl finding
a treasure among discarded
wrappers, next to an empty whiskey bottle


© 6.20.2017 heather brager


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

your lexicon.


my heart is unraveling  
the symbiosis, while you
are writing a melody
in the shape of endings with
words resonating to the corners
slipping through hidden
cracks in the foundation
meeting my humid dawn
with nothing at all. 


© 6.13.2017 heather brager







Monday, June 5, 2017

edit, ad nauseam.


 
oh lover, please
domesticate this lonely
little ego
she’s been waiting
for your hands and
your fingers
to become
tangled in her hair
she’s been waiting
up late into
each night, aching
for your
admiration
your shimmering,
silver tongued
praise

please, take this
scantily clad poem
in all of its
vulnerable nakedness
slide it slowly across
your tongue
licking
every
last
word away
oh, sweet amylase,
this malaise
reduces her to
a complex technical
process


© 6.5.2017 heather brager

Julia Randall. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

may.




a dark branch, a cup
perhaps it was mislaid 
with everything else, a 
starving nomad’s gamble 
for adjacency, a tender
metaphor for wandering
down pleasant street




© 5.18.2017 heather brager

Thursday, May 4, 2017

presence, or pretense.



it is long before dawn, she is naked
and he is fully clothed, this
is the way they often present, distant
mirrors and white space, soft
as her inner arms and belly,
vacant rooms, a payment with words
here and there, please take this offering
accept this tenderness, on mute

it presents as contradiction, that
surreal and abstract, or organic
art cannot physically harm them, that
art cannot leave them financially
destitute after dying, or abandon them
on a corner with a plum colored
cheekbone, and a scarlet
right hand of knuckles

it is beauty that draws them both
possibility in each image, patterns
spread across her thighs, in black and white
forgiving tongues, and burdens lost in
connection, and his dark eyes
juxtaposed against the white
space, a backdrop of violent landscapes
leaning patiently against the wall 




© 5.4.2017 heather brager




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

acceptance is a blank page.


the loose ends you leave behind and
how you disappear show the ones
who love you everything they will ever need to know

the first stage of grief leaves you standing in the grocery store a
forgotten child, the face of loneliness wielding a knife
next to local produce and a bent woman
who shouts “dear, are you okay” as you crumple to your knees
staring blankly at the empty space

you relive the fear in your stories as a reminder that you can,
to justify what your clever mind will not permit you to release

terror follows you across the parking lot to your car
anger clings like a wet dress tripping you up
exposing the truth, spinning the truth
helpless as a spider circling in a bathroom drain

loss is drowning at the bottom of a bottle
re-reading words written by the perfect lover
who never could have existed, but in your mind

pain is a silhouette with his back to the
wind, looking over dark water in a soundless loop
though you are not permitted to see his face
because he is always turning away

the fifth stage of grief slides over you silently as
morning splays across the cat at the foot of the bed, sliding
up the wall and over dust that covers a smiling face in graphite
maybe you remember being content then,
but those eyes are no longer yours



© 4.25.2017 heather brager


Thursday, April 20, 2017

the ocean starts at the shoreline.

this is you, you seek solace in raw demise
you accost by adjective and verb
burying it under allegations
of beasts for slaughter, fish gasping at the shore
discarded and digging in the dirt for forty
some years for the source
detonation at the helm
wanting, lurking, mining for the simple hope 
to catch a fish

this is you, but hope emerged carrying freshly cut flowers,
sweets, poetry and your blame like ancient talismans
vibrant as butterflies on the cover
pleading to carry you out of the picture,
if only you would release the dead weight
but why fly, when you could sink or swim

this is still you, inside of twenty years or more
bowing to a shrine of solitude that grips and holds
you back from beauty so exquisite
it would kill you the moment you heard the song, a song
vibrating from its tender soul

but who are you, really?
are you hidden within the heart she sent
one of two birds, not beautiful enough to soften
hatred so sharp your hands were crimson
before you even attempted to touch her skin,

because artists love contrast, though
you never pressed your lips to the water stain
in a promise, before you commenced digging

this is you, but fear was not your fault
and hope is a solemn beast for
you are the fisherman, and the fish
casting, gutting, drown by air
and now it is all you have, crimson
abandoned at the shoreline
everything at once, then nothing at all



© 4.20.2017 heather brager

Hans Kanters.




Tuesday, April 18, 2017

tidal.


she opened
her eyes as
the shoreline gasped
outward beneath
her naked feet

frigid pools
swallowed hard as
she stood alone
hunting past
the sight line

a lone gull wailed 
and wind stung
as she stood 
down an airless 
insignificance


© 4.18.2017 heather brager

Saturday, April 15, 2017

cambiata.

when it has been a hard year, indelible
patterns wear down the floorboards
daylight presses an imprint against
the film on neglected window panes
limbs remain where limbs must lie in
wilted angles, measured in sepia
when alone is a place to dwell, bitter as a
worn chair in the middle of the room
tolerantly pending the comrade of
umber, who bears a smooth glass of medicine
perhaps time has unveiled a hushed
melody of imminent contentment, watchfully 
tending to deserted spaces with conciliation
leading all of the voices in conversation
until the heart skips dissonance

© 4.15.2017 heather brager



The empty chair.....:

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

shadows of ourselves.

there was meant to be a moment when
you looked back at the wreckage and the
motion of our lives slowed to a crawl, and paused

a carnal beast could be seen climbing, a steady
silhouette from beneath the still life you drew,
with its frozen cast of characters in waiting

you the protagonist, you lying next to the
emotional in our bed, you walking across the floor
to our living room, you writing our story

and you wished to leave the newly
constructed frames, succumbing to whispers
of cruelty and odium, imagined from the depths

there will be regret, but it should not be ours
when time is released from the grasp of
bruised hearts, your character will always turn away



© 4.5.2017 heather brager



Sunday, April 2, 2017

in line at the post office.



and here I wait, again
dangling left and lost
imagining intentions somehow aligned
our last error in a string of
unfathomable events compressed
into weeks, dragging us by our limbs
through shadows of time
with our swords at the ready

could we ever resolve ourselves
after the wake of destruction
and remnants of death
could we navigate the maps, and
how could you ever choose
me over twisted synonyms
and the existential loneliness
you covet like fine liquor

but you, an illuminated entrance
pulling me into the hope of
your soft palms, seraphic
lines sliding off of your sharp
tongue, pressed firmly against my neck
slipping beneath my breasts
as much the wind as a wolf,
though it was she who
pushed you back as I threw open
all of the doors, removed my clothes
and for a moment,
obliterated your armor


© 4.2.2017 heather brager



















(Art, Lauren Marx)