The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Kristene Kaye Brown

Deep Thoughts with Medical Marijuana


This day is lit
with what’s left of noon

so high I can hear
the birds sing, everything

suddenly there. Surely
the birds sing,

or maybe not.
Maybe they’re actually

get the fuck off my branch,
to the other birds.

After all, to take is instinct.
Who am I to assume

kindness is a given.
What’s next? Let’s see.

A rabbit dry-humping
my ceramic garden gnome.

I admire his tenacity.
Look inside,

where there is skill
there is skill, and where

there is no skill
there will be a breaking.

The flowers look silly,

the afternoon away.

There is a sky and clouds.

There is a passing airplane

canceling all noise,

like a quiet conversation

with the self,

while that little bunny


against his own obligations.

And then there is a girl

stretched out

in the grass,

there among the dumb

pink tongue roses.


everything is so perfect

and so perfectly capable

of moving on
without me.



Kristene Kaye Brown

Hospital Ghosts


What strange visit is this?
A boneless blur of white unfurling
like a gown, the soft insistent hands,
lashes rimmed in red.
I am no longer able to locate myself
upon waking. This room is not my own.
Everything stills.
There is a woman without arms
sitting on the window ledge.
There is a drowned boy perched
like a bird
above the television set,
a not-quite-body finding its light.
Tell me,
what does this darkness give?
The morphine drip is a saint,
a reliable friend. I am star spinning
in my big sky. For days,
I have kept the light on. For days,
I have held these ghosts
behind my teeth,
pretend they do not exist—
the small one curled into the crook
of my elbow,
the two nuzzling my chin. Right now
a dead man’s heart
is being pulled from his chest
and put on ice. Right now,
someone is turning off the machine.

Climb down. Sit with me.
There are at least a dozen
surnames for sorrow. So, let us not
be afraid.
Look, behind the moon
there are many more moons waiting
to rise.




KRISTENE KAYE BROWN is a mental health social worker. She earned her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poetry and fiction has previously been published, or is forthcoming, in The Cortland Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Harpur Palate, Meridian, upstreet, and others. Kristene lives and works in Kansas City.



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