Brandon Brown

One of my favorite poems is William Wordsworth’s “The Prelude,” a poem that details the poet’s childhood experiences in the natural world that made him into a poet.  My book Top 40 is a version of “Prelude”, only I never really swam around under full moonlight casting down upon swaying cattails or whatever—what I did and still do is listen to pop music.  In Top 40, I use the forty songs which appear on September 14th’s America’s Top 40 to help tell the story of my life and the lives of my friends and comrades.



For Kristopher “Rain Man” Trindl, Jahan Yousaf, and her sister Yasmine Yousaf, this is probably one of the best weeks of their lives, for their song I Live For The Night is number #40 on America’s Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest.

Because the Top 40 is listed in descending order, appearing first is technically the worst.

But it is the Top 40 after all.

If you find yourself after death living on the moon with the souls of the blessed who showed lack of fortitude in their earthly lives, who abandoned their earthly vows because of a minute temerity of purpose, you’re still technically in paradise, at least Dante’s.

My brother has been trying to explain the convoluted scenario of the American League wild card right now on the Internet, and how the Kansas City Royals fit in it.

When people express confusion, he simply says, “they’re the worst of the best.”

I don’t have a song on America’s Top 40, but my week is going okay.

How’s yours?

I go into the bathroom at work and spit into the urinal before I pee in it.

The spit has some blood in it and the blood gathers in the spare white water of the urinal, a suspended smudge.

I Live For The Night is itself like a smudge of almost everything in pop music from the last few years.

It celebrates the allure and power of the night, as a rarefied time marked by the disappearance of obligations to labor, and thus becomes the kairos for abandon, supplanting regular ascesis for a new, wilder one.

Nocturnal ascesis in I Live For The Night is transfigured into the loftiest object possible, one worthy of total devotion.

The Yousaf sisters’ sing-rapping vacillates between a confident, rhythmic bark and wan vulnerable falsetto.

These three have listened to a lot of Black Eyed Peas, but, then again, who hasn’t?

Saying “I live for X” is a classic dative of purpose.

I’ve been taking baths in the morning lately.

It started a few weeks ago when I was g-chatting with Ben at work.

Ben sent me a link to a piece that the fashion designer Tom Ford wrote for Esquire, in which he describes his toilette, the bejeweled minimalism of his opulent routines.

Ford takes several baths every day.

The first bath he takes is before his workout, right when he wakes up, he bathes with a glass of iced coffee, “slowly coming to life.”

“I don’t like hot beverages,” he writes.

Reading the piece was so liberating, as I realized that I too don’t really like hot beverages, and I vowed to introduce baths into my morning ablutions and drink iced coffee exclusively.

My bath is about ten minutes long or so, and I stare at the wall or ceiling, occasionally drawing my legs up and out of the water and stretching them along the facing plaster.

Or I lift my back from the bottom of the tub so that the water which rushes into the space my back had occupied is newly hot.

Yesterday morning I watched a cockroach glide along the trim, under a bad patch job over a kinky clump of mold.

I had never realized how graceful cockroaches can be.

Maybe this particular one was a “morning person.”

I hardly ever see them, and up until yesterday morning I had only seen the stray bug at night, crumb-hunting in the kitchen.

I thought about getting out to smash its body into a smudge, but it felt weird, while “slowly coming to life” to be an agent of death, of any kind.

It’s never pleasant to see cockroaches, unless you’re at the house of some enemy, then you might relish it.

If I were Kristopher “Rain Man” Trindl, I might feel some anxiety about my job security.

For if anything drastic were to happen to the structural integrity of Krewella, I bet Kristopher is going to be the one to go.

“Krewella” is a kind of clever name, but I don’t know about electing to use the infix nickname “Rain Man.”

As a kid I was a frantic ranker and maker of lists, I kind of “lived for” making them.

I liked to make my own lists of pop songs, ranking all the ones I knew from worst to best.

One of my favorite things was Kasey Kasem’s America’s Top 40, which I’d listen to every Sunday after church, in my parent’s car, while they “socialized.”

Church ended at 12:00, the time Kasem’s show started, and depending on the punctuality of the pastor and my success in avoiding sweet Lutherans while racing to the parking lot, sometimes I’d miss the first, i.e. the 40th, song of the countdown.

Later I read an article about an autistic kid whose most obvious symptom was an obsession with America’s Top 40.

He wrote down the top 40 songs in order every week and filed the loose papers in a homemade archive, for no one’s use but his own.


Brandon Brown is the author of The Persians By Aeschylus (Displaced), The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus (Krupskaya)and Flowering Mall (Roof.) Recent work has appeared in The Berkeley Poetry Review, The Death and Life of American Cities, Poems By Sunday, and Art Practical. He publishes small press materials under the imprint OMG! and lives in Oakland.

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