Brian Tierney

Winner of the George Bogin Memorial Award in 2018

All Stars Are Lights, Not All Lights Are Stars


What's next, I see it. Balancing there like a melon

on the point of a stick distracting bears, soon, no one will remember,

save fabulist painters in their plein-air

yellow gas masks. I see a nest of feathers & someone

says angels. I am trying, these days, to believe again

in people. My Uncle "King" James, in his baker's apron, blotto

in Philly, asking each wallet will you listen, please, & I said yes, I will

listen once—& stared into his eyes. As if looking through a fence

at where a building had been

                                                      erased. I see heaven

is not a place, it's a concept for pain. A sort of drain my father's

hair settles at the bottom of, suggestive tea leaves

or snow, in patterns, on municipal metal stairs I'm ascending

now, leading nowhere I know but a good place to lie-

down. And hope I roll off. And make a seraph where I fall.
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Daniel Borzutzky on Brian Tierney

I admire the energetic drive in this set of poems. The language in these poems is hardened, vibrant, self-assured, rhythmic, and there is a careful consideration of sound, of alliteration, of syllabic configuration. "Having a body was a form of courting peril," writes Brian Tierney. And this sense of peril, of doom, of foreboding, builds outward from the core of the writing to take us to a disaster which is, at once, invisible, and always centered in a body. And yet while the concerns here are localized in breath and voice and flesh, Tierney does not shy away from the public, the national, the global. While writing about imperialism, race, citizenship, police violence, the removal of one's rights, labor or "the syntax of conscience,"  Tierney powerfully investigates how we relate to ourselves and our communities amid the traumas that are on display, and the traumas that leave gaps and absences in those dreams that cannot be saved. 

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