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"twenty-two meditations" from brett a. maddux's algorithm hymns

Hartford poet brett a. maddux releases his latest collection of poems titled algorithm hymns. “twenty-two meditations” is an extended reflection on life, death, and reincarnation featured in the final section of the book, the tumor hymns. The featured photographs were taken during the writing of the book’s first section, the travel hymns.

Poetry & Photographs by
brett a. maddux

twenty-two meditations

i. amen again still trying to break the habit

still trying to reach the ground cross-

legged over the connecticut in suspension trembling shivering above a

shimmering luminosity alive or so they

tell me & downtown i saw a bride &

groom walking alone along a sidewalk

toward the courthouse & at the river’s

edge two children swing in motion each

one aiming for the sky & at a picnic

table three women sit watching & one

says good heavens & they laugh & on

the corridor beneath the bridge they list

the great floods of the past though not all

of them & not the future ones & a man

draws autumn trees in red pencil beside

the sculpture keckly & there are toddlers

in masks grass moved by breeze like

waves descending it has been two

months since my last cigarette it has

been two months since i last spoke to

rose it has been two months since i

learned how to ascend into air & i keep

thinking it will get easier & some days it

does some days parades on pyrrhic

victories but most days i have to take

myself out to clear the lungs & brain a

bit clear the space where kings & queens

are dancing playing their music for gods

own audience first the bend the traffic

casual & then the pirouette


rested gently upon the lungs bridge

mercy’s blessings life is lived until

forgiveness blends in with the water as

sun eddies grass into the current i have

been told love comes between good &

perfect but i haven’t found it there & i

have been looking & i have been

wondering what it is we come for water

in a spiders web fifteen steps across the

span a gnat that hovers suspended

endlessly over the city & somewhere a

dog is barking as a hawk circles the

aqueduct & i have been wondering what

these animals are doing in my head & on

the tracks a cashed half-smoked cigarette

butt a god that gives until we’ve had


iii. god pulls up a chair takes a seat adjusts

the microphone says i would like to play

for you forgiveness psalms in minor key

& they’ll sound just like the ones you

heard before as the radio plays every

station no kings & no solicitations doors

running right up to the water & if the

boatman asks exactly what you came for

i find it’s best to tell the truth or

something close to it on grand pianos

made of metaphor a time that sounds the

same in either three or four a driving

rhythm bodies can’t ignore over the

water now eyes on the shore see gilded

cities made of bended glass flowers &

snakes that blend in with the grass flows

current from the future to the past as

ravens hover for your souls repast &

wonder how long does this morphine

last with lungs that claim to breathe as

clouds roll past you can not take it &

you can’t give it back

iv. staircase of light that leads you

underneath the boatman asks you for

your baby teeth & quotes a fair price for

your soul before he whispers where’s

your god now & in hartford in ‘36 water

nearly reached the bridge & seven years

before there was depression & three

years later the war was on & in ‘45 they

dropped the bomb & as the floods came

rolling in as hiroshima burned as

children lined up for bread they must

have thought the world was ending

prophecy come water rising markets

collapsing famine & struggle all against

all & lately everyone i talk to seems to

think the world is ending & most of

them seem to think it is happening for

the first time