The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Jim Brennan

Writing Process


What a stroke of luck when your best friend dies of cancer
six days after your lover is struck by a bus,
to describe anguish in poignant prose.

And the smell of your flesh burning under molten slag,
or suffering a sliver of rusted steel slicing your cornea,
is red meat to starving metaphor.

Unload a boxcar baking in the searing summer sun, then
jackhammer 100 feet of concrete on a 100-degree day
to percolate powerful hyperbole.

It would help to be thrown face-first into a cell
where you sleep in a puddle of vomit
to describe humility with credibility.

You should run ten miles with the homeless,
then drop your last dollar in a vagrant’s dirty paper cup
before drafting even one line about empathy.

Finally, trek from the summit of Mount Blanc
to the cobbled streets of Trastevere
to craft poetic verse manifesting magnificence.

But not until you see the crown of an infant
emerge from the womb, or the foal from the mare,
will the writing process begin.



Jim Brennan

Faith of a Golden


She doesn’t know the difference between a kidney
and a kidney bean. Failure sounds like filet mignon.
The vet tells me two needles. First, the tranquilizer.
She walks down an embankment, dunks her head
in the Ganges. Talks to a mare under the bottom rail.
Second needle, the last waltz. I worry about the cost
of cremation and burial. She licks her butt. Scratches.
She’s playing me. Refuses dog food, only bacon
and kielbasa. Her faith exceeds that of a bishop’s.
She can’t clasp her paws in prayer. Her religion is chasing
rabbits through fields of tall grass with no chance
of catching, repeating over and over never losing hope.
I wake each morning braced for death.
Her tail thumps against the shag rug.




JIM BRENNAN's heritage as a street corner vendor, warehouseman and shipyard welder filters into his work as author, poet and Cityscape editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal. Jim’s work has appeared in Everyday Fiction, Fringe,, Philadelphia Poet, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Prime Number Magazine, Poetry Inc., Haikuniverse, and other print and online media outlets. He reads his work in venues around Philadelphia including Green Line Café, Moonstone Art Center, Manayunk Roxborough Art Center, Chestnut Hill Gallery, The Rotunda and Fergie’s. Jim is author of the memoir Twenty-four Years to Boston and blogs at




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