Manzano Mountain Review is an online New Mexico literary journal affiliated with UNM-Valencia.

Two Poems
by Michelle Brooks

Look What You Created

“People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.”    - James Baldwin

The year I almost died, I watched Rodney King
on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, Rodney’s plea
from years earlier ringing in my ears, Can’t we all
just get along? As I watched the City of Angels burn
in a morphine haze, I remembered the Devil himself
was the brightest angel. In the footage, the dead
and injured looked like shadows, the news cameras
trained on the flames. Alone in ICU, I couldn’t tell
if it was day or night but I knew Rodney, watched
as he talked to Dr. Drew about the tape, the one where
the cops beat him on what seemed to be an endless loop.

Rodney drowned to death in his fiancé’s pool
a few years later. He’d been trying to drown himself
from the inside with alcohol, to kill the pain bigger
than himself. That’s what I imagine anyway, having
killed a bit of pain myself. I cried, thinking how sweet
Rodney had seen me through those hospital hours,
a tube down my throat, my blood contaminated
by the poison I’d carried inside of me until it exploded.
That’s my story, and maybe that’s everyone’s story.
Since God Could Not Be Everywhere

It looks cold out there, my mother said,
whenever skies went overcast,
forcing us into layers and jackets,
no matter the temperature. I loved
this sweet maternal tick in a woman
whose own life had offered little
in the way of benign comforts. It’s another
Mother’s Day, and she’s still gone. I guess
that’s not going to change. When she felt
stressed, my mother made lists, Things To Do
Today and From The Desk Of scraps littered
the house, some items never crossed.
I think of my own lists, the ones written
between the lines. And when the sky clouds
and it’s warm, I find myself chilled, as if
the way it looked were enough to make it true. 

Michelle Brooks has published a collection of poetry, Make Yourself Small, (Backwaters Press), and a novella, Dead Girl, Live Boy, (Storylandia Press). Her work has appeared in Threepenny Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Iowa Review, and elsewhere.