Brick Road Poetry Press

poetry made to entertain, amuse, and edify

The mission of Brick Road Poetry Press is to publish and promote poetry that entertains, amuses, edifies, and surprises a wide audience of appreciative readers.  We are not qualified to judge who deserves to be published, so we concentrate on publishing what we enjoy. Our preference is for poetry geared toward dramatizing the human experience in language rich with sensory image and metaphor, recognizing that poetry can be, at one and the same time, both familiar as the perspiration of daily labor and as outrageous as a carnival sideshow.

Poetry by Sean M. Conrey from The Word in Edgewise

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Animating the Ruin


Enough of this trying age of buying things:

let’s knot some words into the thing dying closest,

and when the onus falls, let’s shuffle the jokers

back into the deck, paint dancesteps on sidewalks

and sing the whole way, teaching tunes

that lead to bold dancing.  In light of such majesty,

junkyard trumpets are raised and bellow their call:

the time has come for harmonicas.  Let’s walk

the interstate medians in graceless highwire decadence

till the highway’s a logjam of left-behind cars,

the parking lot’s full of fire pits, tents

and tambourines.  Pilgrims all, let’s take the reins

of black and white horses and drive well again.

By God what a racket worth hearing we’ll make.





It starts with a long shot, the beach almost white,

the water’s edge pulled far below the tide mark.

For a second or two the camera pulls in on a dot,

a man so far in the distance it’s unclear it’s a man,

standing in perfect posture, vertical and still

facing east, where the wave builds into a fist.

The camera’s rushed to higher ground, scans

only briefly back to the shore as it tilts up stairs

intended surely for a safe escape from a fire,

now leading up to the balconies and roof where

tourists shout and point, their voices ripping.

By now the wave is clearly in view, the camera

holder says, in what must be Swedish, Look, there!

turning back, steadily holding another moment

on the dot, still standing but now leaning in a little.

The water washes him like dust on a patio away

and by then, the camera’s on the move again.

Below, an old couple scrounge for a rail or ball,

a truck licks against a wall, its bed full of children,

the pool fills with mud, a woman grabs a ladder,

a boat with a family somehow in it glides by quietly.

But these we all see, and the calamity is so clear.

They died or didn’t die.  Some lived to say they saw

their homes, the swimming pool, the bare dirt

walkway to the shore they’d trod for days before

all sweep by.  The old couple are surely dead.

The children in the truck bed, probably, too.  So

why, when dwelling after, months past, now,

do I return instead to the indistinguishable dot

who walked out only when the earthquake settled

and the water receded and the warnings blared?

While others wildly sought stairs and rooftops

and hillside gardens to clamber to, he instead said,

“Enough, already.  A will greater than my own to live

has made my life a gift and gives me a choice.”

How rare a soul with foresight enough to share

that with us, we who, as he stood staring calmly,

scrambled away in a fury and were left strangely

behind in his wake, reminded of what?  Water?




We Wait Patiently


The light breaking through

the tough black rolls of clouds,

so firm and fat with rain,

marks the sky behind them

like a bruise, a bruise like God gives

when He paddles the world’s ass.


And the ark in the distance

tilts to one side

as elephants stand, watching

the ocean lift

a humid white to the horizon

where the sun rises, red.


And an olive’s topmost branch

finally bends in the wind

till the dove breaks it,

flies across the crest

to everyone standing on deck—


Not waiting, really,

rather watching the sunrise fiercely,

the first in forty days,

as yet without our bearings.



A Prayer for Nola


Lord, the river’s feet tripped till

it filled the streets with trembling,

then soft, hot silence for days—


if we could see, really see,

your calm and quiet, these gnats

drifting on the river’s long neck—


if we could see the river without us,

all solitude without loneliness,

we’d learn the first of all joys—


a chalk-handed nun whispers

for us to hear it, too.  Listen and stare,

she says, learn the good fear—


it brings us into our skin, alone

and ready for love in spite of it all.


On Scripture, Water and the Vegetal Realm


I’ve found reasons to distrust reason’s

power to cull meaning from lilies

that clutch at the soil for days

before breaking through.  The overlay

of a few facts and geometry’s thin

vacancies hint an outline, mint copies

on the page but fail to fill in the gaps.




Consider a waterfall’s pool moving

(clearly it’s so:  the oak leaves drift),

and in this evident slowness we point,

saying what we see, naively believing

words and things are fully requited,

never virgins, the knots in the text

twisted through water, leaf and word,

bowline perfect, however they’re said

they’re always and still making love.




Consider how easily we overwrite:

The trees on shore bend black in the wind,

the river’s sewer breaks a waft across

in a thin ripple trilling the trees and then

the voice of a small white sail catching.

This is all in the wind?  We may say so,

but the breeze falls like a pheasant:

a seven-man firing squad’s had its way.



Hold the botany book near the lily,

the lens flares as we focus from one

to the other:  the page, a petal, the page,

the stamen, the page that digresses

at length on the anther and others

that detail the style and the stigma

and by then we’ve lost the poor flower

before us in favor of the scripture.



Sound advice would be:  don’t mistake

a finger for the flower it points to.

And are words fingers or the memory

strings tied round fingers? Maybe

they’re lassos that span the otherwise

cold distance from hands to flowers?

Does folding our hands in prayer

weave their weft in the lily’s warp?




How many eyes does the page absorb

in church, men in stained-glass light

looking at the dance of black and white

like teenagers texting at Niagara Falls.

Magnificent bastard, I read your book!

Why in hell would we choose to be

born again between the white thighs

of some book when, if we just look up,

what we’ve read is busy being born?


Anxiety in the Garden of Weeds


Where underneath the plastic sheets

            there winds a root around a rock;

where over the rise the creek bend silts

            and builds the waterworn weeds in silence;

where some thread tugs my ear to listen

            to the wind’s news of my children asleep;

where love nets me from setting adrift,

            though I’m alone in a city of millions;

when starting, a bird lifts its wings on a wire

            and settles closer to the glass bell;

when bracing for the water’s cold,

            so too the step forward, so too the wince;

when chalklines snap to gauge how lines

            can make the bent world seem bearable;

where snow films black and shivers in

            to whet some stone’s edge again;

where in the weeds trodden long before snow

            the snapped stick says the hunt was on;

when in the meltwater a mineral stirring

            warms and cues a clutch of seeds to split;

when topside the sun draws a thistle

            on its course, a child watching her parent;

where women share a common match

            with the moon’s reliable candle;

where bricklayers and stonemasons pave

            roads woven in stone, threaded with mud;

when the tea of a saltmarsh pours light

            and calm through reeds bent and broken;

what time is made of when furious children

            throw bikes and books over bridges;

what a distance that shadow made

            when we stood cold that day, remember;

where the hollow wrap of a blanket

            riddled with leaves sits rotting riverside;

what the lake was like before the storm,

            before lightning struck its far edge;

how many berries round the tree fell

            and blew this way against odds;

where the oak canopy caps its dark over

            and irons a smudge of mud this long;

how often that cold wave crested

            before some boat came by to part it;

where we walk right past the sidewalk’s

            old concrete hands without seeing;

when I made like I was gauging the sun,

            held my thumb up to dampen its cornice;

when waking, the rattle from yesterday

            comes back and clamors all the more;

where glass shattered in view of heaven

            and fell, setting us back some years;

what light this is some mornings waking

            and god I cannot see it, or my part.



Big Creek


The stone, still

in the water,

after many years

moored mostly

to itself, but still

thankfully there,

writes the rill

so it fills a deep

hole and scoops

the bank, darkly

marking a place

fully out of reach

from the dock

where we sit

saying so little

and stone still.



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