Your polished back is arched like Saint Louis.
I can see your fingers pushing into the bricks
when I lift your hair
to smell October drain from your neck.

You are cotton caught in the air
I am unfurling laces in your body.

I move on you steady like a fleet of ships pushing ice.
I want to break it all.

Your tank top strap slips down the huh huh huh of your shoulder –
and I will not strain meaning from this.

I have to taste all of your shapes with my teeth.

I am waltzing a wrecking ball.

I am wading in the dark felt Tijuana paintings of your hair.
Molting my bed clothes
uncoiling towards Sahara.

All I want to do is hot lust you
into dead sweat.
To watch your legs, those bent sickles,
to watch them shake
like poisoned wrens.

I am gnashed and dazzled.
Smother me in the exhausted thrust of your yes. . . .
as all exploding laundromats.

Darling, may I be the image you turn to
when you are heaving alone,
burning like Halloween in Detroit?

I am breathing up your legssssspitting at the hiding nightingale.
Drift your breasts into my mouth
and I will be that doped up, spinning victrola.
La la la la la la.

I want to make love to you while you’re wearing figure skates
until the hardwood floors are toothpicks.

I want to kiss your throat in a dressing room with my hands
bound around the slow song in your voice.

I don’t care if you made that dress, hippie,
I will shred it until you look deserted.

You’re as restless as a New Orleans graveyard in a storm
with the coffins boiling up to the surface.

That’s all this writing is. She is across from me and the
soup is cooking.

I sit up all night listening to her dental records.
I will teach her of exorcism and screw the hell out of her.
I will carry her steam in my mouth.

Daydreaming of the evening of loud struggle.
Call my name—I will cascade like a suicide.
I will fall upon you like a box of fluorescent bulbs
dropped from a five-story building.

I will do anything you ask. . . .
unless I have been drinking; then it is opposite day.

I can’t believe you can sleep through all this.

Chunks of brick in your fingernails.
Mortar on your pillow
a bomb shelter
sketched on your skirt.
It says “safe.”


DERRICK BROWN, former paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne, gondolier, magician, and fired weatherman, now travels the world and performs his written work. From Long Beach, California, he is dedicated to bringing American poetry into rock and roll status.   He has consistently been the opening act for indie rock act, Cold War Kids and has performed with David Cross, The Flaming Lips, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. His work has been featured in books with Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Jeff Buckley and Jim Carroll. As one of the most well traveled writer/performers in the country, Derrick Brown has gained a cult following for his poetry performances all over the U.S. and through Europe. A poetic terrorism group has taken to sticking and tagging his metaphors across the globe. To date, Brown has performed at over 1400 venues and universities internationally including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, La Sorbonne in Paris and The Nuyorican Poets Café in NYC.

QUOTES about Derrick Brown:

  “A wit as sharp as Sedaris, a sensibility as poignant as Sexton, Brown manages to blur the lines between cult writer and poet with remarkable ease and grace.” -Anthem Magazine

“He is probably America's greatest unknown literary talents. Derrick has blown honesty and humor into the darkness and has somehow made poetry cool again.” -Nylon Magazine

  "I love Derrick Brown for the surprise of one word waking up next to another. One moment tender, funny or romantic, the next, visceral, ironic and revelatory—here is the full chaos of life. An amazing talent." -Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander.

“That was an excellent show. Excellent.” -Jay Leno, The Tonight Show.  

"Derrick has written one of the greatest love poems ever written. He is one of the top five poets in America, a true artist." -Marc Smith, author and creator of The National Poetry Slam.  

"Derrick Brown's work, both vibrant on and off the page--sizzles with jolting images and blasts of humor, yet retains a deep compassion at its core. He has a heart the size of a Mack truck, but we're not sure who's behind the wheel." -Jeffrey McDaniel, author of The Splinter Factory and The Forgiveness Parade.

11 responses to “cotton in the air”

  1. Excellent work, Derrick. After reading this, all my eyes want to do is…well…in your words…hot lust you into dead sweat. Cheers.

  2. Zara Potts says:

    It’s an inadequate response but: Wow, this is great. Love it!

  3. I’m with Zara. I’m not sure I could provide an adequate response to what this sparked off in me.

    Kudos, sir. Kudos.

  4. Becky says:

    Pretty sure the appropriate response is, “Excuse me, I have to be alone for a minute.”

  5. Barry says:

    Absolutely amazing. Well done!

  6. milo martin says:

    bloody well write!

  7. […] it, like I believe Stars of the Night Commute has it, like Terese Svoboda has it. Definitely like Derrick Brown has it. The Pacific Trash Vortex is funny, yet intelligent. It speaks. When I read it I immediately […]

  8. Ducky says:

    Hot damn, so much greatness.

    My favs:

    All I want to do is hot lust you
    into dead sweat.

    I want to make love to you while you’re wearing figure skates
    until the hardwood floors are toothpicks.

    I will carry her steam in my mouth.

    You have conjured someone for me. Thanks.

  9. […] again for Tom Hansen. *Laura van den Berg’s beautiful Bigfoot story. *Derrick Brown writes some bloody beautiful poetry. *Paul Clayton visits a brutal writers’ boot camp. *J.M. Blaine and the ten thousand beautiful […]

  10. I keep coming back to this poem. Very moreish. Especially the ‘poisioned wrens’ image – arresting. And I think Becky (see previous) has summed up the adequate response.

  11. tip robin says:

    This is verbal bludgeoning: emotive, stark, shocking, sensual, at times beautiful.

    All that sharp words that it should be to create a long-lasting effect.

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