Fighter | Egon Schiele

Human Destruction

These poems explore the destructive power of humans against each other, both en masse and individually, by our own, human-created systems of government. The limits of such destruction seem to know no bounds. Who will try to stop it? Can it be stopped? The poems in this selection explore the extent of human’s institutionalized inhumanity toward man, questions whether such
destruction can be stopped, and demands to know whether justice exists.

Quartet for the End of Time: 1. Liturgie de Cristal by Olivier Messiaen

Celebrate the light that smiled on the leaves
that fed the trees
that birthed music from its roots.
Celebrate in birdsong.

A man breathes
Dry desert tundra air turns hands to sandpaper
splitting fingers, joints stiff
Nature did this.

The neck doubles in
the center corrugates spruce into itself,
renting wrenching seams, an open secret
the soundpost


Man breathes. Nature did this. Celebrate in birdsong.

Bach Double Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins and Orchestra, BWV 1043

I wanted you to see what real courage is….It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.

Atticus Finch ? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

I am dead already. I know that, and everyone else does, too. In fact, the crowd is waiting for it. Rooting for it, even. Cheering it.
The men in blue puff their chests, certain on the result.
The women waive handkerchiefs, sensibly and socially offenses. “Isn’t it barbaric?” Covering their faces.
But I see their gleeful eyes from the cracks in fingerbrick walls.
It would be impolite of me to lay down too soon, and I am no manso.
The crowd expects an extravaganza. Their hero music fight,
earn his title
and come out wiser for the tribulation. And for the hero to struggle, for this ordeal,
I must play my part. There is a procedure to be followed
overseen by The Honorable in black.

My Opponent rises, struts. Does he know that this will not be much of a fight?
“May it please the Court, Your Honor, Members of the Jury…”
So the dance begins. My heels dig in the albero.
Citar, the matador tips his hat to the crowd and circles again. Swirling suit, congratulatory. He thinks this is a chess game. He thinks he is calculating maneuvers. But this game only moves toward one end, my end.

At this point, you are probably thinking “Why fight at all?”
And you would be right. Suerte is never on my side. But there is more to go, and go someone must. And I am a toro bravo.

My Opponent veronicas
Objection! My horn grazes his edges. My opponent laughs. He likes to feel that he is close to death. He thinks that he is outsmarting Death.

He comes in for renate. The arrancor begins, trial nearly done.
“Accordingly, Members of the Jury, I ask that you return a verdict of Guilty.” The faena.
I dig my horns into him at the moment of the knife.
I will not go down without a fight.
The District Attorney is now a hardened hero with scars to show. Me,
a slain sixteen-hundred-pound beast, soggy in my own blood.
The whole process complete, verdict recorded. Rules of Criminal Procedure
Followed to every black letter. As Ernest put it, “The bull lay heavily and black in the sand, his tongue out.” A monster vanquished.
a Public Defender, always the enemy.

Lisa Brunner studies poetry in Chatham University’s MFA Program and is the recipient of the Robert Hull Mansell Endowed Poetry Fellowship. Lisa received her Ph.B. in History from the University of Pittsburgh and her J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law. Her poetry is influenced by her love of music and her legal career. Lisa also plays and teaches the violin. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her poetry has appeared in Sampsonia Way Magazine and Night Music Journal (coming May 2021). Her first chapbook, Symphony No. 1, was released in April 2021 (Aloud Press). Lisa can be reached at

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