Craig Brandis, 5/28/2018

Current occupation: writer, student
Former occupation: Craig Brandis has picked crops, been a mill worker, a cannery worker, a carpenter, a surveyor, a bus driver, an engineer, and a resident corporate mustapha.
Contact information: Craig Brandis lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon and studies poetry at the Attic in Portland with David Biespiel, Ed Skoog and Matthew Dickman. His goal is to become a working poet – with a small p. He believes that labor, the work of one's hands and heart, is sacred and you shouldn’t give it away to just anybody.  Poetry is culture work. At its best, it becomes insurgent art and a human call to arms. As William Carlos Williams pointed out, “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.”  His work has been published in the Red River Review, New Verse News, Poetry Quarterly and elsewhere. You can find more of his poetry at



Tower Worker – West of Mt. Hood

I am 
a broken bird
and I am dying
It took me five seconds 
to fall four hundred feet down 
the hollow leg of a radio tower 
I was helping to build on Council 
Crest. One second ago, molecules 
of concrete, individual ones, seemed 
to know my name. Two seconds ago my 
left boot caught the side wall, flipping me 
over. Three seconds ago, my buddy tried to 
grab my belt and missed. Four seconds ago my 
new safety clip failed. The spring was too stiff and
and it slipped off the railing. Five seconds ago I just 
noticed there was a strand of my wife’s hair on my sleeve
I had gotten to work before sunrise and climbed to the top of the
tower. The sun was rising behind Mt. Hood and my first impulse was
to jump–like it alway is, like I can fly. I felt a quickening too, like a seed 
but there was something feeding on my un-ripening. I felt fine-wired 
to the sunlight. Like all the electrical cables I had pulled the length 
of the tower, life was a field of layered grids, all wired hot
and if I just flew above them, always doing tower work
maybe sometimes dipping low but still staying above 
them, I could sail forever. The clouds behind the
mountain were sighing and I could see into 
the nothingness that reached forever
around me. Somewhere the smell
of mint and something else 
on the wind too, a bird
just above me, a
seagull with an
orange beak
and dark 


Sex Worker in Shinjuku

In the hard loud alone of Shinjuku
in a bento box theater, rows 
of salary men in white shirts
pack together like eggs
to watch a live sex show

One woman on stage uses a device 
and her well-trained muscles
to shoot cigarettes from her vagina 
into the audience – Hai!

Another plays rock paper scissors
to select men from the eager front rows
who want to have sex with her on stage
One man can't get it up and she tells us 
behind his back with her drooping finger

I am embarrassed that my group 
of American business colleagues
have urged our Japanese hosts to bring us here
though they seem to think nothing of it
After a few minutes, I am oddly bored
As I get up to leave, the pretty blond woman 
on stage with the salaryman wrapped 
around her like an abandoned carousel horse
calls out to us in english. Goodbye, she says
over the heads of the crowd as if to say 
I am lost, but you don't have to be


Road Work

She’s leaking hydraulic, he says
and lowers the blade of his D8 dozer
to the ground and shuts it down

The smell of newly exposed 
forest soil mixes 
with diesel exhaust

Robins drop from the trees
to feast on the sudden 
bloom of nightcrawlers

There is a boulder in the road bed
he needs to dynamite anyway
He can replace the broken hose later

Jumping down from the track, he catches
a glimpse of  an impossibly blue egg shell 
in the dirt at the edge of the cut bank

He drills an eighteen inch hole
in the boulder and gently packs the hole
with a full stick & back fills with gravel

He runs the wires 
two hundred feet back 
Yells for everyone to stay clear

Fire in the hole!
He touches the wires 
to an old truck battery

When the deep thud hits his chest
he stands still, looking straight up for falling rocks
every other time but this one

This time he forgot
For no fucking reason
he just forgot


4 Comments on “Craig Brandis, 5/28/2018

  1. Three beauties. Like the shining bellies of the three fish I saw lying on a wharf overlooking the Willamette. The old guy with the rod and reel didn’t say a word. Just kept working his crossword.

  2. Three good poems, and a good venue for them. I esp liked the mountain-shaped poem about an extended fall, distorting time. And the one about dynamiting a huge rock. And I like the author’s mission statement about work, and about poetry as work. Keep it up, Craig!!

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