New Release–Fractured by Erin R. Britt

That’s right, folks!  Fractured is finally available.  Right now, the only format up is Kindle, but it will become available for paperback in the next few days.

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As I mentioned before, Fractured is a collection of poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction essays that explore the breakdown of relationships and the breakdown of self within different contexts.  I hope there will be something for everyone within its pages.

I wrote all of these pieces independent of each other, but when I decided to put together a collection, I noticed there was a common thread through all of them.  Some of the pieces I wrote a couple of years ago and some are only a few months old.  I put a lot of myself into everything I create, so if you read and enjoyed Celia, you will likely enjoy this also.

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A New Collection is Coming Soon

I have finally finished something new!  In the next few weeks, I will be releasing Fractured.  This is a collection of poetry, creative nonfiction essays, and short stories all revolving around the idea of being…well, fractured.  Sometimes this is meant in the literal breaking of objects.  Sometimes it’s the breaking apart of relationships and of self.

I decided to put this collection together after my son had brain surgery.  I left my teaching position because he had so many appointments to go to and I was missing a lot of classes.  Friends suggested that I create a GoFundMe page (or a page like it) so that people could help me out financially because, let’s face it.  Gas isn’t cheap.  I take my son on a minimum of two appointments a week and I live 25 minutes away from him.  Because I am me, which often translates into more proud than smart, I didn’t want to do that.  I didn’t want people to give me money, regardless of how much I needed it, because I didn’t want to feel like a mooch.  So, I started thinking of what I could do to make myself feel less moochy.  That’s when I realized that I had enough material to form a collection and Fractured was born.

I will be self-publishing, but don’t let that scare you away from grabbing a copy.  You can be sure that several eyes have passed over this.  It will be a quality publication.

Poem 8–We Have Met Our End At Last

The other day, while browsing my Facebook news feed, I saw a link posted by two of my friends.  It was for this:

Breathe-easy-shirt

Yes, this is really a thing.

One person posted this ironically and the other posted this in earnest.  Let’s look at the most obvious problem with this shirt.

When you state something, you imply that the opposite is also true.  For example, if you say, “Drunk drivers kill people,” you are also saying, “Sober drivers do not kill people.”  So, when a shirt says, “Breathe easy. Don’t break the law,” it is also saying, “If you break the law, then you deserve to have difficulty breathing (or to not breathe at all).”  What constitutes breaking the law, then?  Well, lots of things, as it happens.  Jaywalking.  Turning on red when it’s posted you can’t do that.  Failing to use your turn signal.  Performing oral sex.  No, I’m not making that last one up.  In Indiana, oral sex is illegal, regardless of whether you are married to your partner or not.

Are any of these things worthy of capital punishment?  Please tell me you’re all saying, “No, don’t be ridiculous” right now.  And yet, according to this shirt, these people are not obeying the law and so they deserve to have lethal force used against them.

“But Erin,” you might be saying, “let’s get real here.  It’s only talking about ‘big’ crimes, like killing people or resisting arrest.”  Fair enough.  Let’s look at that.

James Eagan Holmes was arrested outside of a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado after he went inside and killed 12 people and injured 70 more people.  He was arrested.  He wasn’t shot to death.  He wasn’t choked to death in a prohibited maneuver.  He. was. arrested.

Eric Garner was accused of selling loose cigarettes.  Seriously, that’s what they thought he was doing.  That’s not a capital offense.  Even if Garner had resisted to the point where an officer felt his safety was threatened, are there not better ways to resolve that situation?  The short answer is, “Of course there are,” and that’s why people are so upset and why #Icantbreathe is even a thing.  Side note: when you become a police officer, you accept that public safety becomes more important than your own and that your job entails added risks because of this.  If you don’t want to be in danger, don’t become a police officer.  I don’t want to be in danger.  This is why I’m not a cop.  Seriously.  Lethal force should be your final option, not your first response.

When looking for inspiration for this last poem, I decided to try doing an erasure poem from a news story.  The news story I chose had to do with Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

 

When The Wild West Was Yesterday

Who is telling the truth?

Have faith in military zones

riot gear,

tear gas,

rubber bullets—

that they can tell

the difference.

 

Jack up the conflict—

armored cars,

gas masks,

SWAT gear,

chaos.

Don’t release the name

arrest the journalists.

 

Respond with solidarity

explain the resonance

add another hashmark

to the genre

of Black Death.

“I can’t breathe.”

 

 

 

Poem 7–When There Was Nothing Left

So, a few weeks ago, I posted about the absolute clusterfuck that was my life.  Of course, whilst I was dealing with all of that, I also had a poem due for workshop.  That was one of the most difficult poems I’ve had to write because Life had sucked everything out of me through a bendy straw.  I had nothing left to give, so this is what I wrote.

 

Empty

here in this space

punctuation is an exercise

 

in futility

 

and getting out of bed

becomes an act of

 

 

revolution

Poem 6–Hold On To Your Butts

This next poem is something I have never even considered attempting before.  I wrote a sestina.  I may not ever do this again.  I’m not even going to lie about it.  The assignment was to write a sonnet or a sestina, and since I’ve written sonnets in the past, I went with the sestina.  You might want to grab a beverage for this one.

 

The Order Includes Both Extant and Extinct Species

She held the baby turtle in her hand,

leaving fingerprints over the shell’s braille.

The turtle, in response to the  potential conflict,

pulled in its limbs and prayed for water.

She held it close, knowing that her power

was false—it could have chosen to struggle

 

even as she could have chosen to struggle

against the insignificance of her own hand.

Life was the mouse that escaped the cat’s power

only to find itself tripping over the braille

of the mousetrap, pinned and begging for water.

In the place where death and life conflict,

 

what was the point, if not conflict

resolution, of a satisfactory end to the struggle?

The cacti will always plead for water,

spines held aloft like supplicating hands

that rise above the desert braille

with nothing to grasp against the flood’s flashing power.

 

But interference was outside her power

even as she orchestrated the conflict

of razor blade against skin, scribing braille

apologies to no one who could read them. Her struggle–

to not write more lines with a shaky hand

while watching the sink pool with blood soaked water.

 

She wondered if a drop of holy water

could infuse in her some divine power.

She held the droplet in her hand,

indistinguishable from tap, a conflict

she had no stake in, so felt no need to struggle

against her senses or the rosary beads raised like braille,

 

or gooseflesh raised like a braille

scripture, not from divinity but from rain water

laced with laudanum.  The haze is one less struggle

for the turtle to hide from.  It exercised its power

of avoidance until it couldn’t evade the conflict

anymore and shrank itself inside her hand.

 

She stroked the turtle’s braille and found the power

to place it near the water, end its conflict,

the futile struggle against her hand.

 

So, what do you think?  Should I attempt more sestinas in the future?

Poem 5–A Trip

For this poem, we were supposed to root it in truth but then make up some of the details.  One of my favorite trips I took as a child was to Whitefish Point in Michigan.  There is a shipwreck museum there and it was the coolest place ever.  One day, I plan to take my boys there so they can experience it, too.

Edmund Fitzgerald Could Have Been My Father

November 10, 1975

 

We went that summer to pay respect

to the sunken ships of the superior lake

 

A lighthouse was their headstone—

the ships, themselves, rested in paupers’ graves

 

Names—on wood, on steel—legible only to fish

in schools that can’t read

 

The living wanted to study the portraits of the dead

read plaques covered in ridiculously small script

 

Squinting      squinting      as if the reshaping of their lids

would force some meaning

 

I much preferred to study the waves—

a deepness that hugged cargo

 

close to her bottom

I looked past ripples into nothingness

 

in the nothing I saw myself

This was information best not shared

 

My brother joined me, asked what I was staring at

I considered all the things I could tell him

 

metaphors and words that end with –istic

except I was only 12 and I didn’t know

 

that kindredness had words

He was only 10—the words I didn’t know

 

held no meaning for him anyway

He asked again–

 

 

It is the most honest conversation

we will have.

Poem 4

For this assignment, we were told to channel Noelle Kocot.  However, I was also reading Joe Bolton at the same time, so the end result is a combination of the two, though my professor thinks it’s more Bolton influenced.  Actually, I’m ok with that.  If you haven’t read either of these poets, I would recommend them both.  Kocot is just so weird.  I love it.  Bolton gives me all the feels.  All. The. Feels.  If you can only read one of his poems, please read “The Distance.”  That piece brings me to the brink of tears every time I read it.  It’s my favorite Joe Bolton poem and one of my top ten favorite poems of all time.  Anyway, so at time time I wrote this, I was obsessed with the concept of the starlight we see being from something that ceased to exist billions of years ago.  I mean, if you really stop to think about that, it’s mind blowing.  The voice is a pretty big departure from my usual voice and that was really fun to play with.

 

Starlight

 

They went to the countryside—

attempting to hide from the glaring skyline

Because she wanted to see the stars.

“We didn’t need to come here.”

He saw the stars in her eyes but not

the way her face scrunched at his

Attempted romantics.

“We’re all just clichés—clichés with feet,” she said,

Her way of absolving him.

“Is it a cliché if it’s true?”

She hesitated, a conscious act to spare him, then said,

“Yes.”

She looked back to the stars

their cold, dead light a remembrance

Of something long extinguished

their names forgotten.

He looked to her instead of the sky

as though he were Galileo.

She never asked to be heliocentric,

couldn’t shake his orbit.

His racing heart and fevered blood

would be the death of him.

She wanted to care, or at least to feel guilty

for being his source of condemnation.

It would have to be good enough.

She watched the sky and he watched her,

Memorizing her constellations,

basking in her heat,

Never once considering that

her life was starlight.