The Brain is a Beautiful Junker

by Stephen Brooks

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You look around like yer leaving, like a madman turning sane with the last drop of medicine. On top of a crane, taller than the balcony yer on, old glory whips hard against the night, lit with fluorescence, and down in the pit below, there is nothing. The red light of Hotel Congress glows. There is nothing but cigarette smoke and time now, winding up into the sky in one of the last cool nights, before everything turns hot and crazy on the way back east. And what is there to say that hasn’t been said, even that’s been said, and who does anyone think they are? Leaving the loft, down on the sidewalk now, a small statue of an angel is lit in a store window, a red mask almost blinks. And then driving through the black tunnel, it all opens up: time has always flown, you have always swum, sometimes the air’s so dense you can barely pass through it, and you wonder what kind of figures are swirling in your headlights right now, if only you had the eyes to see anything besides your eyes, and whatever street’s right in front of them. A man should be able to leave his whole life on one page, someone thought, but who takes the time to write that page, to begin that first stroke? Sirens swirl to the east; there’s glass in the highway, remnants, artifacts now from some kind of smashing. Green light, red light, blue light. And what is to be left of a man that is comparable to the rough shards of glass that would pierce the toughest skins, scattered over the pavement? Green. The blood runs through you like cool electricity. Turning onto Queen Street, you roll the windows down, and when you think again, you’re flying over the Tennessee River Bridge far away from the desert, with the blue water running fast below, with a few twinkling taillights, headlights, in front of you, the moon rippling in the water and the steel. You are drunk, on time, not driving anymore, just floating back into everything you knew—before the creosote leaves that leave a sticky yellow resin on your fingers when you crush them and smell like the rain, and the monsoon clouds that wash the tops of the mountains, and the snow in April, and the day the weather did everything at once, hot cold snow rain sleet sun, gigantic cacti planted on the surface of the moon, a cloud passing across a mountain road, thunderclouds blowing across and raining into your face, and the Grand Canyon sunset shadows and the pedal steel strings bending and the dryness in the back of your throat and the cold Mexican beer and the hot wind the first night you stayed on the east side of town after flashing down from Phoenix, watching motorcycles rip through ninety-degree midnight, and the Apache Trail star shower where the sky almost big-banged your brain, floating up from rock cliff canyon, looking back at yourself through a telescope, and the warm nights in the sand dunes, the majesty of the San Juans and the monuments under the full moon—and then you are back, and tires clack over grates, and you can smell all the dirt and wetness roaring in through the open windows; you accelerate until you’re back where you started, with old glory whipping, and then pulling under the carport of your little house, cutting off the engine, you can hear the traffic just around the corner, getting louder as you close your eyes for a blink. In the open air, a few drops of rain fall, a lightning bolt crashes over your head; sparks fly; thunder’s deafening; and then the rain screams down, all at once, no bottom, and you are awash in the night, standing with an open mouth as each drop beats, each crashing together, running, the sky flashing blue, until there is nothing but that sound and the echoes of electricity off the crags, ringing deep inside your skull, and the need to let it out through your fingers.


released January 1, 2012

All Songs by Stephen Brooks
Recorded at Wavelab in Tucson
Engineers: Chris Schultz and Esta
Mixed by Derek Almstead



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Stephen Brooks Tucson, Arizona

Jeff - Drums, Guitars
Esta - Bass, Keys, Organ, Guitars, Space, Pedal Steel
Stephen - Vocals, Guitars, Harmonica, Mandolin

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