Wherever I Look I am Never There by Allen Brafman

By g emil reutter
Allen Brafman is a poet of careful observation. His poems are quiet yet all have a strong undercurrent of passion of life and death. In the poem, Mirror, the poet reminds us how we carry with us all those who came before:
This is my father’s beard
His face has become mine
My grandfather
chuckles inside the parlor mirror
His hand comes forth
He is about to pinch our cheek.
A poet of deep reflection Brafman holds his memories close in what appears to be a simple poem yet is complex, the poem, This Morning:
I found our first kiss
forty some years, hundreds
and hundreds of times
remembered, lost
in the breast pocket of
a denim shirts, back
of the closet, shirt that
just about fits me again
On the surface it appears to be a memory of a first kiss, but it is much more. The poet writes of a love of forty years, a memory that comes to him often over the years only once again to surface when trying on a shirt from the back of his closet. A gentle and beautiful love poem.
The poet tells us in the poem, Birds Thick as WaterEach newly acquired loss/added/to all the losses/ lost and tallied before. He is a poet who writes of the reality of loss and what it means to those left behind such as this from the poem, Lost and Found:
I don’t want to
talk about people
I’ve spoken to on
the phone who
died before I
got there
This poem reflects the stark realism of life. It is not adorned in fanciful words, it is simply the truth, blocking out of their departure and our final destination.
Brafman treats us to a beautiful surreal poem, Butterfly’s Child with haunting, majestic imagery.
A yellow butterfly lifts a little
girl from the front yard
to a forest of marigolds burning
In a third-floor window box. Explosive
winds hurl the butterly off
course,  put a cinder in the child’s
eye. The child falls back to the yard, free
of the butterfly, the rain that follows.
Fed by water, flame that can never
extinguish, she has become the daughter
of that butterfly, large black eyes
growing on yellow wing ferociously
she sometimes flutters
Brafman writes of a panhandler as a carnival barker in the poem, Playing the Odds. He tells us of a drunken escalator in the poem, Attacked from Within, and in the poem, Time is not Enough, he writes Lonely as a bar stool/in a crowded bar. There is nothing stale about this collection as Brafman fills his poems with fresh imagery. In the first stanza of Anna, he returns to stark realism of what we all know to be true on the subway:
That woman’s
talking to herself,
don’t let her
see you
looking at her,
she might
start talking to you.
Wherever I Look, I am Never There is a collection of poems that reflects life in realism, at times surreal. Of love, of loss, of the lonely, of family, of the will to go on. Brafman gives voice to those who live on the edges, of those departed in sometimes gentle and stark observations of a poet who loves life and those he encounters.


g emil reutter can be found here: https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/



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