Real Big American Zen on Amazon’s Hot New Releases Chart!

Friends,

Thanks to all of your help in spreading the word about the new release, Real Big American Zen is now #15 in the Family Poetry and #5 for Inspirational Poetry on the Amazon Hot New Releases Chart! Thank you all!

-Brandon

Soon, A New Day – Poetry Anthology


Friends, I’m thrilled to announce the release of Soon, A New Day, the new poetry anthology from Quillkeepers Press. The anthology features new poems from me, along with the brilliant work of many others. It’s an honor to be included. I’ve linked the cover art above if interested in purchasing a copy for yourself!

-Brandon

Repetition – A Poem by Brandon White

Hello friends! I’ve got for you today, a new free verse poem, fresh from the mind to the screen. I hope you enjoy it!


Repetition:

Choke on thoughts of hands
and flesh

and know that I have come to despise
these cheap displays of passion.

On the endless backroad
of my numbered days

I speed screaming into the mouth
of the beast that swallows my years.

Every wrong turn
remembered.

I feel I've been
robbed.


-Brandon White

Gift – A Poem by Brandon White

A short, newer free verse poem that arrived fully realized while driving my daughters to school. I hope you enjoy it!


Gift:

I live not for risk
or adrenal rush

not for company men
or brass rings

I live for the song

For that perfect line
of a poem

where the muse rips
open the box of mystery

like a Christmas morning gift,
raises it to me smiling and says:

For you, the world


-Brandon White

Bob Dylan: The Master & The Mystery

Photo by Richard Mcall via pixabay

In my time as a writer and consumer of poetry and songs, I’ve found few artists as polarizing to my fellow lovers of music and literature as Robert Zimmerman, aka Bob Dylan. From those who simply can’t find their way beyond the nasal vocal delivery to those who speak of him as a kind of prophet, the truth is few artists in popular music have had the kind of cultural impact as Dylan. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said better by many writers over Dylan’s seven-decade career, and this IS NOT a career retrospective – this is, as all things I will present to you in this space, about the craft and the mystery of art, and few have gotten as close to the heart of that mystery as Bob Dylan.

As a young songwriter, hearing Dylan for the first time was like God himself pulling back the curtain of creation and saying, “See, this is how it all works.” I was blown away, terrified, and determined to understand how someone could find themselves in such command of their craft. How the hell did he write like that? These fantastic images that flowed from his pen were like nothing I’d heard before, and they set my imagination on fire. Clearly, he was tapped into the source – there could be no other explanation. Later I’d find out that the source he was tapped into was a tremendous knowledge of folk and blues music, a bit of theft, poetry, and a lot of amphetamine. Still, plenty of artists had enjoyed their share of these and other things, but none of them returned from their trips with a message like this.

So what as artists of the social media age do we have left to learn from Dylan?

First, not to let the opinions of others dictate how you approach your work or determine what success and failure are to you. Is the act of creation enough? Is the act of creation and sharing it with others enough? Or does it need two thousand likes and to fill your inbox with hundreds of followers curious about your skin-care routine?
If your answer is the latter – please take some time to rethink your approach.

Second, the bravery to follow one’s muse wherever it leads. Dylan, throughout his career, has been a chameleon. From Woody Guthrie clone, to protest singer, to rock ‘n’ roll cool guy, to a country artist, to evangelical preacher riding a slow train promising fire and brimstone, to bluesman, to doing his best Frank Sinatra impression, nothing has stood between Dylan and his vision. Tastemakers be damned. Carve it into your heart and bravely step into this cynical world to leave a mark that is uniquely yours. Bob would have it no other way.

A couple of years back, I attended a Dylan concert at the Brady Theater in Tulsa, Oklahoma. From the sparse stage set-up to the minimal, warm lighting, the room was ready to recieve the message.

Dylan took the stage with his incredible band and delivered not a single song in its original format. The audience of mostly general music fans were left stunned. What was this? Why is he changing the arrangements? What is he doing? The endings of several songs were met with an uncomfortable silence, followed by almost reluctant applause.

Dylan was showing us the raw truth of his craft. That there on his stage, in his mid-seventies, night after night, he was not there to deliver the hits. No, he had come to conjure spirits, to throw the curve, and call wild audibles all in an attempt to find that elusive moment where creativity, heart, and muse align. He was, in his way, pulling back the curtain and saying, “See, this is how it all works.”

The Child – A Poem by Brandon White

This free verse piece was written around the same time as the bulk of the poems that make up my debut book, The Year that Stole the Light Away. I stumbled onto it this morning, and after seeing it with fresh eyes, I thought it would be nice to give it a home. A piece about the child that lives in us all: I hope you enjoy it.


The Child:

She remembers me from years ago,
but I can’t say the same.
She says her mind is troubled.

She tells me her mother ran off
with her stepfather.
They’re traveling the country in an RV.

She tells me she deserved more
when her father died.
Now that bastard gets it all!

She leaps from her chair
and loudly re-enacts an argument,
jabbing her finger into a phantom chest.

Her eyes fill with tears,
and at sixty years old, a lost child
cries out for her mother.


-Brandon White

The Musings of a Future Yelper – A Poem by Brandon White

I hadn’t thought about this free verse poem in a while. Before the pandemic, one of my favorite places to write was a restaurant booth or in a coffeehouse somewhere- surrounded by lives being lived and the hustle of the day. The electric air thick with poetry.

Please, come back.


The Musings of a Future Yelper:

They’ve never been able to
maintain a restaurant at this location,
and many have tried.

It’s not a bad spot, either.
Downtown, right on the avenue,
the best bars within walking distance.

I’ve sampled every establishment
that attempts to put roots down here.
They’ve all been decent enough.

For whatever reason,
the people won’t come.
Sushi, Burgers, Piano Bar, it makes no difference.

I’ve sampled cuisine
from four different countries
and sat in the same shitty booth each time.

Outside, the rain falls steadily.
It’ll be this way for the next several days, and I’m sad
my daughter might not get her last train ride of the season.

Three men enter the restaurant
and sit directly
in my line of sight.

Above me, a TV plays sports highlights
and when they watch, it feels like
they’re staring.

Maybe they are?
I’ve reached that elusive point in life
where it makes no difference.

The burger and fries
are too salty—
what a shame.

My waitress asks how everything tastes,
and I lie to make her feel better.
She smiles her crooked smile and fixes her peroxide-blonde hair.

I ask for my ticket
and she’s out of sight again.
I begin to review my latest poem.

I’m writing about food a lot lately.
I’ll be yelping before
you know it.

Outside, the rain pours on,
gathering into puddles
and flowing down the drain.

Like all the wasted minutes
in a life.


-Brandon White

The above poem, “The Musings of a Future Yelper, ” appears in my debut poetry collection, The Year that Stole the Light Away (Raw Earth Ink). Click the cover to purchase a copy!

Realization – A Poem by Brandon White

A recent free verse poem.


Realization:

I've often wondered why
you entered my orbit.

A test?

A threat?

Perhaps both?

You now exist
as a ghost, a memory,

something tragic.
That's it, isn't it?

Something tragic
to haunt the mind,

the heart,

the poem.


-Brandon White

Jagged – A Poem by Brandon White

I hope you’ve all had a great week! I’m a bit under the weather this morning, but nothing some rest and meds won’t fix. Here’s a newer, free verse poem that I thought you might enjoy.


Jagged:

I love you
in fifteen-second bursts
that feel like dreams
to those of us who
remember how

Do you know
that kind of longing?
The kind
That sets souls
to searching

the pages of books
and unfamiliar hands?
Those of us who do
almost always return
empty-handed

Just as I am now, here,
in the long shadow
of your love


-Brandon White

Promises – A Poem by Brandon White

A free verse poem born from hard lessons.

Promises:

Remember this moment
when the old life
calls to you again.

Remember your brokenness,
and the promises
you made in the dark.

Remember the final breath
and the frantic heartbeat
under your hand.

Remember how quickly
a life, with all its complexity,
can vanish.


-Brandon White

The poem above, “Promises,” appears in my debut poetry collection, The Year that Stole the Light Away (Raw Earth Ink). Click the cover to purchase a copy!