The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Brian Beatty

Late Last Night


I found you in the kitchen
with no lights on
taking a meat hammer
to your still-beating heart.

Really pounding it. I asked what was wrong,
asked you to describe exactly how it felt.
Poets only communicate in metaphor.

You pulled the biggest knife from the block
on the counter and gave me a far-away look.

It wasn’t as romantic as it sounds.



Brian Beatty

When the Time Comes


My navy blue suit
hangs in the closet
at the end of the hall

for someone to die.
An empty suit is like a loaded gun
in a play that way.

My yellow tie I always wear is also at the ready.
I keep it knotted and slung over the cold

shining knob of that same door.



Brian Beatty

How to Play Folk Guitar


Strum chords that strike chords
in the hearts of listeners — more or less
in tune. That’s it. Too much
technique ruins art.

Wear a traditional hat
easily passed around for money.
Playing folk guitar is all about traditions.

Keep your mouth shut, please,
unless you can actually sing.

Honor this poem in song.



Brian Beatty

The Purpose of Spirit Animals


In this dream I was having a conversation
with a bear — both of us
dressed up like railroad engineers
in striped overalls and caps.

My ursine pal was sad
to admit that the train’s glory days
were behind us.

I could only nod. Life is often more caboose
than engine chugging full-steam ahead.

At least there’s scenery either way.




BRIAN BEATTY's poems and short stories have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including The Bark, Conduit, Dark Mountain (England), The Evergreen Review, Forklift Ohio, Gigantic, The Glasgow Review of Books (Scotland), Great Walks (Australia), Gulf Coast, Hobart, McSweeney’s, Midwestern Gothic, The Moth (Ireland), Opium, Paper Darts, Phoebe, Poetry City USA, The Quarterly, RHINO, Seventeen, Southern Poetry Review, Sycamore Review and Word Riot. Beatty is the author of the collections Coyotes I Couldn’t See (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016) and Brazil, Indiana (Kelsay Books/Aldrich Press, forthcoming). He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.



Previous  |  Next