Charles C. Brooks III


Six Chapters of Swerve


Patsy Cline plays
on an old Corvair’s radio,
singing as long as dirt roads go.
‘I go walkin’, after midnight.’
Two lovers are headed for a blues bar in Bethlehem,
candle-lit shanties whipping by.
The ready lady is wearing dancing shoes,
a good omen for a good evening.

Windows down, Janis Joplin starts on the speakers:
‘Take a little piece of my heart now baby!’
Last week’s turmoil gets tossed out,
then flares
like discarded cigarette butts.
Yellow lines bleed together
as that car begins to outrun the past.

Saturday, 3:47am,
awake for no reason,
I’m still bound up in groggy make-believe.
Unable to softly swerve
from fog to footsteps,
I rationalize this cerebral alarm:
It is the need. It is the need who calls.


The night brought up wraiths,
and I whittle those ghouls into phrase.
To quell my my Hyde, my frantic mood,
I write a line, maybe two.

I see her, calming, the favorite joy.
She isn’t here,
and in that absence, a raw reflection is left behind,
my ill-healed wounds.

I ask that I
may win against angst.
Does the night hear me?
I pray the same time as you,
connected by loose association,
and like gypsies, adrift.


Early sun, awkward naps,
rejuvenated by 10am.
I feel unplugged,
spinning, thinner, bounding,
shining and shining like new chrome.

Dressed, slouched in a coffee shop,
an espresso is wooed
into Jamaican Blue Mountain.
On my drive the breeze seemed inspired,
knocked-up by possibility.
Houses stood out, children played on purple swing sets,
lawns smelled crisp.

Caffeine, natural stream of consciousness brings up:
It’s a good time for Kerouac.
Until the air sours in my mind’s whiskey drip,
dharma, ruck sacks, and late night cheap wine
seem necessary.
Kerouac created an allure around short trips home
and hitchhiking.

I must always be vigilant,
not get carried away.
Literature can adore us,
or snatch us straight down.
Myth is the most addictive.


To shuck luscious backsliding
I mend mother’s lawn.
She decided this year caladium
will be encircled by hosta;
hyacinth in pungent clusters.
Early afternoon heat crawled into my socks,
and singed my shoulders.
Herbie Hancock played as I plodded along.
Mom fed me cashews and chocolate milk.


Sunday evening,
contemplative, limbs cumbersome iron,
I look at another week wrapped in calamity.

Another subject!
No more Monday driveling.

A shelf of books unread,
a moment, an exhale, one blink
and I’m Uncle Remus in his rocking chair,
one cool glass of water.
Dramatics are left with Moliere.

There’s enough decent work done
to continue laying low.
Drink it in,
this whirlpool of floating apples over three days,
this, a tour through my mind
like a hungry psychiatrist.


Across neural pathways,
interstates of hyperactive synapses,
the fluid of jungle compositions
force men onto cold, hardwood floors.
You’ll understand once
it’s 3:47am,
befuddled, bursting.
If you’re prowling after sisters and brothers
bed down,
my Corvair’s door
is always open.
I’m up. Hop in.
We’ll talk, turn up a rockabilly tune,
or fall silent
in the miles of bending willows.

Blues Solo

Driving on a moon-hung highway
with John Lee Hooker,
I wore my soul like a chore.
This ‘67 Chevy Impala
took mellow wheels
and burned through infinite miles.

Roads snake on through the glimmer hours,
to sweetness sleeping on the other side.
I feel like a prophet with smoke in his eyes,
seeing truth that burns around the edges.
It’s the voodoo of her love letters
tucked in bag
beneath John Lee’s guitar.

Then sorrow reminds me of the line,
‘ain’t nobody’s fault but mine’.
Mr. Hooker told me I was thinking
like a lonely train.
He said, “a man counting his regrets
is bound to go insane.”

Nighttime is a shade of day; it passes.
I remember The Blues Café in Smyrna
where I read John Agard poems by myself.
Then sorrow reminds me of the line,
‘ain’t nobody’s fault but mine’.

There’s one lady with my remedy.
Her place is where I’m headed.
Car roaring, pushing,
John Lee Hooker
fell asleep in his seat
while I roll towards a gray dawn.
Keep me upbeat, you Patron Saint
of Doomed, Heavy Hearts.

Tao of Miles

dedicated to the fans of Miles Davis

There’s a centripetal gravity
in the ephemera of that guy.
His smooth nods and improv’s
are prodigies of turmoil.
He was born from undiscovered chords,
composed from excess and ecstasy.
Still a shaman,
lonely souls are conjured into parties.
Hail to the fevered chief, a boxer,
his blistering horn throwing secrets.
The tempo is more than blue,
heavier than their parts,
unconcerned about second hand smoke.
Miles put the game upon a pedestal,
wailing like an ingenious rebel. He gave birth to gods.
His jazz drips all a man’s best
into a comfortable glass of bourbon.

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