Meeting of Mavericks

LoVerne Brown.
  • LoVerne Brown.
  • Milkweed grows by my fence.
  • Don’t ask me to pull it.
  • Weeds were my friends in childhood —
  • emerald explosions
  • in the dull cinders of train track,
  • green lace at the sleeves
  • of our water trough.
  • Eyes starved for color
  • were well fed by fireweed
  • elbowing tin cans aside
  • to take over the dump.
  • I live in the city now,
  • but claim kinship whenever
  • the uncombed head of a dandelion
  • pops up like a gopher
  • in the midst of a groomed lawn,
  • or a purple thistle —
  • remembered from roadside ditches —
  • looms insolent
  • in an enclave of roses.
  • Today a prickly thing
  • I don’t know the name of
  • is exploiting a crack
  • in our sidewalk.
  • I greet it as friend:
  • “Hello, I too
  • like to challenge the fissures
  • in my firmament,
  • squeeze through, sometimes,
  • more often fracture my skull.”
  • My new acquaintance braces his spine
  • along the crack, and shoves.
  • Cement crumbles.
  • I think tonight
  • I will sneak out and water
  • this one!

LoVerne Brown (1912–2000) lived much of her life in sparsely peopled places — the Aleutian Islands, her grandparents’ homestead in Wisconsin, and in lumber camps and iron-mine company towns along the Brule River in Upper Michigan. In Juneau, she worked as a reporter and later, in Seldovia, she and her husband published a weekly newspaper, The Westward Alaskan. She subsequently taught creative writing for the VA, at Fresno Junior College, and for the community school system in San Diego, the city in which she spent the last decades of her life. Brown was a central figure in the San Diego poetry world and a writer and mentor who was greatly loved. In July of 2012, the centennial of her birth, the Ocean Beach Historical Society held a celebration of LoVerne Brown’s life. “Meeting of Mavericks” is from her collection The View from the End of the Pier, published by Gorilla Press, and is reprinted by permission.

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