READ LOCAL First is your glimpse into the working minds and hearts of Utah’s literary writers. Each month, 15 Bytes offers works-in-progress and / or recently published work by some of the state’s most celebrated and promising writers of fiction, poetry, literary non-fiction and memoir.
Today, 15 Bytes features St. George-based poet Markay Brown. Here she provides four poems, part of her work titled Eve’s Child which won 1st place in the 2014 Utah Original Writing Competition in the category of poetry collection judged by Richard Howard who referred to the winning entry as “a great work, a new poet’s triumph. But there is a tonality other than triumph.” Along with others who placed in the competition founded in 1958, she was presented with a cash award by Utah’s Poet Laureate Lance Larsen in November. (See video of ceremony here.)
Sunday Blog Read continues to accrue a distinguished group of established and emerging Utah writers for your review and enjoyment.
So curl up with your favorite cup of joe and enjoy the work of Markay!
from an oil painting by Jay Taylor
Triptych daughter in a gray-striped dress,
taffy yellow hair damp from play,
three poses on a stone bench:
1. Forward—wide violet eyes,
hands crossed in your lap,
bare feet crossed at ankles.
2. Sideward–chin up,
arms lifted, fingers splayed.
3. Motion—whirl of gray, white,
your arms reaching
down to a rough rock floor
toward a transparent apple,
a crumpled, clear and empty
I want to climb inside the canvas window,
hold your face in my hands:
Don’t touch that apple!
But it’s fruitless.
you are Eve’s child.
Where I’m from
folks followed the plow,
in the old days with matched horses—
I remember Prince paired with Pat.
Now they partner with Deere,
and Kansas kin inhabit their fields
with oil derricks hunting
and pecking the ground
like iron ducks and chicks.
I’m from cracked china,
dust in the sugar bowl,
café cooks and story tellers,
country fiddlers on the roof
who really came from Russia,
from German-speaking lovers of Old Glory
who sat in war-time jails.
I’m from Prohibition whiskey-drinking drunks
who gave their last dimes to a toothless old lady
or a boy needing bail
for kiting a check to buy bread.
I’m from mortar boards, books,
new religion, Beethoven,
grand pianos, grand notions,
summer houses, beach vacations.
But I walk with my toes pointed out
like I’m pushing that old wooden plow.
I tell myself: Steady now, keep
on the course plotted
Dancing to Ray Charles, 1960
Seattle night, sultry
unknown part of town.
My comrades, strangers
outside our shared summer jobs.
An extra ticket peeled me
from my cocoon onto a darkened bus
toward an uncertain rendezvous.
The crowd jangled through the doors,
excitement sparkling off their dresses,
shaming my plain-clothed sensibility.
Bleacher seats lined the room,
a dance floor centered, ready.
On stage, a single ebony grand.
Led to the piano at the hour,
a pleasant-faced, dark-glassed man
took the microphone and crowed,
Hello, Seattle! to wild applause.
Smiling broadly, Ray leaned back his head,
fingered an intro, sang:
Georgia, Georgia, no peace I find. . .
In Sweet Potato Pie heaven with Ray,
I danced with a boy who didn’t mind
my awkward prance, jived for both of us.
In Selma or Savannah we couldn’t
use the same drinking fountain
or sit together on a bus. In Seattle
that night we were boy and girl
wrapped together in Ray’s song.
I wish I knew those moves.
from a James Christensen painting
She chases a white butterfly,
sleeve wings billowing
focused on fair flight
while we’re warm
in her small sun.
she puffs hundreds
of wings skyward, twirls,
captures white dandelion chaff.
We reach unconsciously
to brace her, embrace
while light burns.
While we’re warm
in her small sun,
she vanishes into
the apple orchard
freed by the breeze.
the eye’s anatomy,
our need to blink,
our eyes heavy as
Markay Brown began writing poetry in 2002. Her work has been published in Southern Quill, Segullah, Encore, Panorama, Provo Orem Word, Utah Sings, among others. Markay serves as president of Redrock Writers, a St. George chapter of the Utah State Poetry Society. She won first place in the 2014 Utah Original Writing Competition for Eve’s Child, her collection of fifty poems. The judge was Richard Howard, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and teacher at Columbia University. Brown is an intermittent blogger at MarkayBrown.com
Past featured writers in 15 Bytes’ Sunday Blog Read: Katharine Coles, Michael McLane, Darrell Spencer, Larry Menlove, Christopher Bigelow, Shanan Ballam, Steve Proskauer, April Wilder, Calvin Haul, Lance Larsen, Joel Long, Lynn Kilpatrick, Phyllis Barber, David Hawkins, Nancy Takacs, Mike Dorrell, Susan Elizabeth Howe, Star Coulbrooke, Brad Roghaar and Jerry Vanleperen, and Maximilian Werner.