Poetic Remnants of Lives Past
New and Select Poems by Award-winning Author L.M. Browning
ISBN: 978-1-938846-21-2 (pbk) | 5.5 x 8.5 | 70 pgs
*Out of Print
About the Book
In this new collection, Browning brings us a poetical coming to terms, as she touches on topics such as emotional trauma, spiritual disillusionment, and lost love. It is a dirge of grief and empowerment, highlighting both sorrow as well as the spirit that remains even after all else has left us.
Down Along the River Styx
Wrapped in your straitjacket of self-involvement
We plow ahead into the dark horizon
Conjured by your ill-yearnings.
You built this faulty ship
With its warped compass and missing keel,
With its brittle bones and gutted sails.
You set the course to that forsaken place
And hold to it each day no matter my pleas
And the omens warning you away.
Why must I make the journey unto ruin with you?
You do not value my companionship.
You simply want company in your misery.
You do not care how many years I lose,
Never taking into account what I might have wanted.
The only need you have of me is as a nursemaid
When at last this boat runs aground
And the vulturous society you keep comes to eat you alive.
…And you curse me for jumping ship.
“Both accessible and universal, these stripped down, lyrical meditations echo those quiet moments when we contemplate possibilities and probe our limits. No caring reader will explore this volume without deep soul searching. With some delicious turns of phrase, we discover cold, disconcerting places where ‘being connected to everything / Has disconnected us from ourselves.’ But there are also places of snug, simple comfort where “home is my church. / And my heaven, a chair by the hearth.” Each poem is a step in a journey well worth taking.”
—David K. Leff, author of Tinker’s Damn and Deep Travel
“Readers familiar with Browning’s work will find Vagabonds and Sundries more personal and compact than previous works, but still replete with insight into Big Questions about the world and our place in it. Browning shows the courage both to ask difficult questions of her self and of the world, revealing both depth and breadth in her work. If a central task of the poet is to link the inner and the outer, she has succeeded marvelously here. ‘Even the most desperate pain,’ she writes, ‘has a sweetness; for in feeling, we know what it is to be human.’ The essential struggle of the poet is not so much to understand our lives, but to fully experience our aliveness. In reading her work, in sharing her struggle, I cannot but feel a kinship to Browning. But perhaps this is just because all good poets make us feel this way.”
—Theodore Richards, award-winning author of Cosmosophia and Creatively Maladjusted: The Wisdom Education Movement Manifesto
“The poems in L.M. Browning’s latest collection, Vagabonds and Sundries: Poetic Remnants of Lives Past, are delicate and clear, quiet yet unflinching. To be sure, the collection is full of ghosts, those demons of memory who burrow into dank corners and rattle us into heartache—until we release them. Under Browning’s careful pen, grief is not frightening; enigmatic, certainly, but also holy. Our most private questions are not answered; they are opened further and then savored. Through her poetry, we learn to ‘bear the neck-breaking swings from happiness into desolation,’ face ‘the dark molasses of time,’ forgive our ‘boat-rocker selves,’ and reconcile our past lives. Browning gives testament to this journey.”
—Amy Nawrocki, author of Four Blue Eggs and Potato Eaters
“How can we move beyond daily existence towards a deeper view of reality while still remaining faithful to the actual world? L.M. Browning’s poems provide an answer. Each of them is informed by a profound insight, the very sparks of creation, perhaps even the living flame of love. Even the title poem, ‘Sundries,’ gives a hint of the eternal while still focusing on the truth of the physical world. Her work advises us to surrender to the nourishment all around us, to embrace both the primal rhythms we feel and the ethereal truth we sense. If we can do both, we find ourselves able to breathe again. At one moment she invites us to lose our fears of mortality, at another she acknowledges her personal experience of the ‘poison,’ convincing us of its reality. This poison can lead to an unbalanced disarticulation which her work, through its art, reassembles.”
— W.F. Lantry, award-winning author of The Structure of Desire