Bryan Borland… Poet Extraordinaire!

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This edition of The Gotham Translator is honored to invite a wonderful poet and a loving person I had the pleasure of meeting through a mutual friend. I was touched by the depth of his poetry. This is but a short bio showcasing the illustrious work performed by Bryan and a few of the accolades he’s received:

Bryan Borland (North Little Rock, Arkansas) is founding publisher of Sibling Rivalry Press and author of My Life as Adam, Less Fortunate Pirates, and DIG, which was honored as a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry and a Stonewall Honor Book in Literature as selected by the American Library Association. Chosen by readers of the Arkansas Times as its inaugural “Best Poet,” most recently he received the Editor’s Prize from the Desert Rat Residency of Palm Desert, California. His work is housed by invitation in the Rare Book and Special Collections Vault of the Library of Congress.

LINEAGE 

There are things you aren’t meant  

to understand.  

The only brother to survive the war  

had twelve children and four generations  

later here you are. 

Decades ago someone fed a dog 

and because of that you have a dog.  

You’ll never know the woman who 

planted the tree but you love her 

because she did. 

MANTRA

Black buzzard, red cardinal,

ruby-throated hummingbird

have love for you.

Rabbit, small and hungry, and full of love for you.

Ladybug you gently rescued from the bucket of water

and the green leaf upon which you rested her have love for you.

Music and electricity have love for you.

Language and words have love for you.

Wooden frame of house and trees who grew it have love for you.

The memory and the forgetting have love for you.

Crow and coyote

have love for you.

Ancestors and yet to be born have love for you.

Old friend has love for you.

Even the enemy has love for you.

The disease and the cure have love for you.

Mystery and explanation have love for you.

Library and mountain have love for you.
Writer and book have love for you.

Mistakes and best intentions have love for you.

Snake who you injured has forgiven you.

Girl who you held holds love for you.

Boy you once were has love for you.

Man you’ve become has love for you.

Moonlight and snowfall have love for you.

Regret and desire have love for you.

Shadow and space are love for you.

Moment of death has love for you.

There is no you who is not loved.

There is no you who is not loved.

There is no you who is not loved.

There is no you who is not love.

INSTRUCTION

If your story had a beginning

it would start not with light

and dark but in the color between

call it shadow call it dawn call it just

before morning waking before your father

when you alone in the world hear existence

into existence before sounds had names

when knowledge was only intuition

and soon the smell of coffee and you

floating with no foothold

no gravity everything miraculous 

your small body this new planet of potential

and possibility oh intelligent fledging

there’s a word for this

you’ll learn and forget many times

WILL

Wondering about the paths these things will

take once I leave for other adventures

the proof of this life picked up along the way or

chosen because they made me think

of someone I loved or a place

the toy robot my brother’s that sits on the shelf

not just a material thing the key to unlocking

Christmas morning 1986 when I wasn’t brotherless

the red-tailed hawk feather found in the field

when I leave for other adventures I leave

behind a thousand locked doors

occasionally to be opened by some well-meaning

artist or nephew who doesn’t yet exist

but who I already and completely love

CHOICES

Back in Arkansas after a week in New York

and the heat is breaking everything. It’s a full-time

job to saturate the ground in water, even more so

a privilege. Molly the dog got a rabbit this morning,

her third of the summer. I atone for our sins by

trying to keep everything else alive. This time

last week I was holding my husband’s hand

in the city. But Ukraine and Gaza and war. How

all this can exist at once, I don’t know. The earth

spins. The sun goes down. We only get

so many chances to choose correctly. 

THINKING OF THOSE WHO LOVED YOU THROUGH

How to tell yourself to keep going—

that what you think is the end is

a spectacular beginning. That

you will change the world in large

and small ways and the small

ways will mean as much

as the large. That you will

see things you wish you could show

everybody who held your hand

along the way. All those people

who were so strong for you

when you needed them

but who in secret cried for your end

that was really a spectacular beginning.

MEDITATING

The quieting of the mind, that meaningless chatter,

the thunderous approaching herd of worries

not yet birthed to body: how many days

does the dog have left, how many do we,

does the boy I wronged still think of me?

Did I kiss my husband enough? Do I make him feel

wanted? Do I make the spirits ashamed when I perform

beneath myself—but quiet all of this and focus

on the breath, the breathing, the space between

the ex and in, and if I need to think of something,

think of stacks of books around me, Bach & family

photographs come to movement and memory,

think of winter blooms & telling friends

how proud I am of them, yes, go by name:

Alana, Lucy, Gustavo, and Guy. Bless

the slow dance to prayer, for my mother, for any

mother, for the woman who wears the blanket

and how she reappears. For the world. Bless

the sounds, don’t tune them out, welcome them, hear

the symphony of being. Of imperfection.

Bless the snags in the fabric, bless sick days

that slow me down. Bless the bad day

at one job that makes me work to find

another job, and bless the job I love

because of that bad day. Bless the real

work of learning to listen and absolution

when I don’t. Bless being gentle on myself

for not believing these words or receiving these

words though I’ve said and heard them so many times:

I apologize & I forgive you & I love you very much.

I apologize & I forgive you & I love you very much.

I apologize & I forgive you & I love you very much.

Bryan Borland is founding publisher of Sibling Rivalry Press and author of DIG, a Stonewall Honor Book as selected by the American Library Association. (www.bryanborland.com)

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