Rust or Go Missing
The poems in Lily Brown’s Rust or Go Missing exist in the liminal space between the literal and the imagined, the rational and the irrational, the abstract and the representational. They think themselves into being, and in so doing, become not just reflections on lived and imagined experience, but experiences in themselves.
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Lily Brown was born and raised in Massachusetts. She holds degrees from Harvard University and Saint Mary’s College of California. She has published poems in such journals as American Letters and Commentary, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Fence, and Pleiades. Her chapbooks include The Renaissance Sheet (Octopus Books), Old with You (Kitchen Press), and Museum Armor (Doublecross Press). She lives in Athens, where she is a PhD student at the University of Georgia.
It feels weird just standing so I put my foot
against the other leg and stand until I wobble.
The sun sets early. The light days fly.
Some nights, we watch the sun set over
the water but behind the point.
We photograph constantly. Sameness
and landmarks are terrifying. Color
we run out the kitchen door for. No flash,
but color seeps longer, darkens yearly.
All the walls fall when the head hears
the nightmare. How easy to be giddy:
when faced with nightmare, stare it down.
How lucky to unfix eyeshine from shapely
mind, things functioning.
When striating ribbons of white sand
make strips so small,
Prepare to face sunlight with little
or no sunscreen. No dark glasses.
We become obsolete, not or else.
At the edge a turquoise line extends.
It's painting, but pretend
it's something else. At the edge
tundra green bumps sky purple
bumps sand bumps ocean grey
bumps red, fiery red above. At the edge
we walk. Pale interstices. Waves deafen
and flatten. Be honest. In the painting,
there are mountains.
“Lily Brown writes with and against things in poems that are coiled up tight as springs (or snakes). A believer in the power of the line, she writes, ‘I think the plastics / and sink them’ then ‘Where is the sand / man hiding the dirt.’ These terse, biting poems will make you look around and wonder.”—Rae Armantrout
“Sometimes tender, sometimes spiral-eyed—but always, as we say, ‘of a mind’—Lily Brown’s sonorous and cerebral poems can fire synapses you never knew you had. If you’re careful, Rust or Go Missing will keep you on the edge of your head.”—Graham Foust
“Reading Lily Brown’s poems, I feel myself in the presence of an electric consciousness gazing at the temporal rifts and physical folds beneath landscapes and the manifold tensions between bodies. Poetic language here is an instrument of thought or, rather, of a thinking that breathes and is embodied and seeks a new path. By all means, join her along the way.”—Michael Palmer