The Family Business

The Family Business. © Chris Bronsk, 2014.
The Family Business. © Chris Bronsk, 2014.

“It wasn’t long before everyone on Cloud Street and anyone who lived near it knew about the Lambs’ new shop, and not long before they started to spend as much as they gawked. At dawn you’d see the little woman out there sending Lester and Quick off to the markets across the rails, and the whole still street would be full of the coughing of the new truck and the reverberation of Oriel’s instructions. Nobody was ever left in doubt as to how many stones of spuds she thought necessary for a day’s trading, or how to feel the ripest watermelon or what to tell that man Boswell when he started trying to fence bad tomatoes on them again. Even if you couldn’t see those meatly little arms and the sexless ashen bob and the sensible boots on her through your bedroom window and your morning blear, there wasn’t a chance you’d escape the sound of her sending the family about it business.” —Tim Winton, Cloudstreet

(From an ongoing series of urban architecture shots)


Facade (I). © Chris Bronsk 2014.

Facade (II). © Chris Bronsk 2014.

See on the canals
Those vessels sleeping.
Their mood is adventurous;
It’s to satisfy
Your slightest desire
That they come from the ends of the earth.
— The setting suns
Adorn the fields,
The canals, the whole city,
With hyacinth and gold;
The world falls asleep
In a warm glow of light.

—Charles Baudelaire, from “Invitation to the Voyage” in Flowers of Evil

Out of the Waves

Slow Music (I). © Chris Bronsk 2014.

Slow Music (II). © Chris Bronsk 2014.

Slow Music (III). © Chris Bronsk 2014.

SLOW MUSIC by Tomas Tranströmer

The building is closed. The sun crowds in through the windowpanes
and warms up the surfaces of desks
that are strong enough to take the load of human fate.

We are outside today, on the long wide slope.
Many have dark clothes, You can stand in the sun with your eyes shut
and feel yourself blown slowly forward.

I come too seldom down to the water. But I am here now,
among large stones with peaceful backs.
Stones which slowly migrated backwards up out of the waves.

(on Virginia Woolf’s birthday)


Sentinel (I). © Chris Bronsk 2014.

Sentinel (II). © Chris Bronsk 2014.

Jacket worn and shabby like a pack of wolves.
Face like a marble chip.
Sitting in a ring of his letters in the grove that sighs
of mocking and mistakes.
Yes, the heart is blown like paper through inhospitable passages.

Now sunset steals like a fox across this land
setting the grass on fire in a moment.
The sky is filled with horns and hooves, and underneath
the calèche glides shadowy between my father’s
illuminated estates.

Tomas Tranströmer, excerpted from “Gogol”

When the Light Cools

When the Light Cools. © Chris Bronsk 2014.Twin Tracks. © Chris Bronsk 2014.

If night is our last address,
This is the place we moved from,
Backs on fire, our futures hard-edged and sure to arrive.

These are the towns our lives abandoned,
Winds in our faces,
The idea of incident like a box beside us on the Trailways seat.

And where were we headed for?
The country of Narrative, that dark territory
Which spells out our stories in sentences, which gives them an end and beginning…

Goddess of Bad Roads and Inclement Weather, take down
Our names, remember us in the drip
And thaw of the wintry mix, remember us when the light cools.

—Charles Wright from “Appalachian Farewell” in Scar Tissue (FSG, 2006)

(To ends and beginnings. Best wishes for 2014, everyone.)


Diagnosis (I). © Chris Bronsk 2013.

Diagnosis (II). © Chris Bronsk 2013.

Diagnosis (III). © Chris Bronsk 2013.

The blue square of light
in the window across the street
never goes dark—

the cathodes, the cordage, the atoms
working the hem of dusk—
traveling past the cranes and the docks

and the soiled oyster beds,
the trees loaded with radium,
colors like guns,

red pock-pock red and yellow up,
yellow down—
the blue hour, the waiting.

Meghan O’Rourke, from “Halflife”

Refuse Stasis

Refuse Stasis. © Chris Bronsk 2013.
Refuse Stasis. © Chris Bronsk 2013.
Reconfigure Bones. © Chris Bronsk 2013.
Reconfigure Bones. © Chris Bronsk 2013.
Exquisite Repose. © Chris Bronsk 2013.
Exquisite Repose. © Chris Bronsk 2013.

“And Father, dear Father, ‘your memory causes my heart to fall out,’ to spatter flat on the ground until all is left behind, until the hollow body begins to trace out its shell-like regions:  the ribcage, chest, and pelvic girdle grieve until the bones are rearranged, resemble a skeleton, a museum exhibit, a body shell case. In case the glass shatters, document the past with exquisite repose; reconfigure the bones until they order the mind without disrupting the brain, which is constantly at work to put the pieces back in order. Say to the brain: ‘Replenish the images you refuse to keep; refuse stasis. Resign from eating away at the thing; eat the thing.” —Claire Donato, Burial

The Cracks of a Gate

Cracks of a Gate. © 2013 Chris Bronsk.
Cracks of a Gate. © 2013 Chris Bronsk.


If after our death they want to transform us into a tiny withered flame that walks along the paths of winds—we have to rebel. What good is an eternal leisure on the bosom of air, in the shade of a yellow halo, amid the murmur of two-dimensional choirs?

One should enter rock, wood, water, the cracks of a gate. Better to be the creaking of a floor than shrilly transparent perfection.