Ode to my briefs


The secretive protector
soft cotton — skin
the only thing allowed
between my manhood
and the roughness of my jeans.
White as the last heroic snow
remaining on the pavement
that February day of Valentine
when I queued outside the florist
for an overpriced
long stemmed crimson rose
thorned to prove angelic love.
My briefs are one of three
brothers, bought on sale at
Palo Alto Macy’s
on a forgotten business trip.
Its seams are a wanton legacy
to a young Bangladeshi woman
named Chadni or Laboni
eyes dark with longing
working ten-hour shifts
for lentil soup and rice
eaten afterwards
in Dakka brown-out lights
before she goes to bed.
My briefs hug my waist
just like the fearful night
when dreams made me unsure
of death, your shallow breath insane
when I waked you with my tears
to be swallowed by your breasts.
My briefs are waiting prayer-flags,
they are fabric-softened-damp
hanged along their siblings
on the clothes-line
stretched between the birch-trees,
waiting to be filled
in daytime cotton hugging
of my tired genitals.

IMG_0166
Karin (Manicdaily) wants us to write an Ode to something quotidian at toads. I do not have any Nerudian socks, but my briefs will do I hope. I will also linke to Poetry Pantry tomorrow morning.

June 20, 2015

43 responses to “Ode to my briefs

  1. Hmmmm, I guess I can say that I found it interesting that you bought them at Macy’s in Palo Alto. This truly is an original topic. Smiles.

  2. Ha. I have not known briefs for nearly 25 years. I am glad of the consciousness of those that labored to make them. That is something we do not always consider in our buying.

  3. What a surprise to suddenly find two Bengali words ‘Chadni’ meaning moonlight and ‘Laboni’ meaning graceful in your poem…those two are names given to the loving daughters…it’s sad that individuals bearing such heightened names may lead a dark life of poverty as indicated in your poem…this also reminds me of the huge accident that took place in a Bangladesh garments factory killing many….the poem reaches a great height from a mundane little thing…..

  4. This is poetry, in the true sense of the word. What I appreciate most about the movement is how you take us from the everyday and necessary object to human experience which lies adjacent to its very existence. The association of colour, the acknowledgment of the hand that crafted it and the humility of ownership are all striking indeed.
    This is the first poem of the challenge and I wonder how any other could top this reading experience for me.

  5. I love this one Bjorn–for some reason, especially these lines: “My briefs are one of three/brothers” seemed to incarnate your subject, to set the mood–then as Kerry says, you go so much further with this almost living thing, its history, its destiny, its place in the larger world, giving so much authority to what is only normally the most commonplace and even absurd transitory thing. Very reminiscent of Neruda’s work, but in a way completely original and personal. A very fine poem.

  6. What a laugh but so serious too when you think of that Bangladeshi machinist working for a pittance. Perhaps we all ought to consider the source of our purchases and the people whose lives impact or depend on ours.

  7. I too check the labels of my undergarments, hence the part
    of the labor done by Bangladeshi woman just to have a decent meal is the one that moved me ~ I can also empathize with this part:

    My briefs hugs my waist
    just like the fearful night
    when dreams made me unsure

    Have a good weekend Bjorn ~

  8. Nothing like a good poem about underpants..they are there with you through thick or thin…i like the undertone of humour matched with the more challenging moments of life..carefully balanced..as i guess well made pants allow!

  9. Wonder how many people remember the fire in Bangladesh when they pick out (under) clothes… this is a rare ode, written with a lot of freedom.

  10. A fine unusual & unexpected ode coming from you, Björn. Subject-wise & creativity-wise, you def aced for this challenge at real toads—congratulations! I enjoy the different details you put about this ordinary object, the metaphors, & a bit of fast facts—all jived so clearly well. Bookmark worthy!

  11. Well, that certainly was interesting…those briefs had a lot to say. dream can shake us sometimes as we try to find our rhythm .My fav part Bjorn.

    when dreams made me unsure
    of death, your shallow breath insane
    when I waked you with my tears
    to be swallowed by your breasts.

  12. I love the connection between the seams of the garment and the life of the woman in Bangladesh who made them. A very fine write. This is what I love about poetry, that a seemingly humble object can inspire such a flight, evoke memories, make connections, inspire empathy at our shared humanity.. Loved this one, Bjorn.

  13. This is great Bjorn. How original to write an ode to your briefs. They deserve it. I like how you mention the makers of your briefs, and how they comfort you throughout your days. Very clever poem!

  14. A simple garment, connected to life and others’ lives, evoking memories and being a part of them as well…nicely and creatively done.

  15. Tired, huh? Good for you! And great to know so deeply the meaning of those briefs, including “Its seams are a wanton legacy
    to a young Bangladeshi woman” to whom they mean a dinner and endless hours of work in unsafe surroundings even for that. Those briefs unite the political, sensual, personal, and–I imagine–spiritual realm as well! A brilliant ode.

  16. As soon as I saw your title I could not wait to read it as I knew you would take me all around this garment’s history and life and I would…and I love this…such a perfect poem talking about the virtues and vices of this common garment….really well done Bjorn!

  17. This made me smile, never thought one could right such an elegant poem on briefs! 🙂 Well done! You always amaze me with what you can write Bjorn.. smiles.

  18. I enjoyed reading this. Your poem resonates with multiple emotions – at times funny, at times serious. Sort of hanging somewhere smack in the middle of the two. 😀

  19. I loved the imagery in this. I guess the thought of where our clothes come from often begins and ends at the store they’re purchased from. I like that you’ve lent a pretty solid reminder of the long hours and low wages some endure. Nicely written, Bjorn!

  20. Quite colourful…clearly a little more romantic than the jeans-White as the last heroic snow
    remaining on the pavement
    that February day of Valentine
    when I queued outside the florist
    for an overpriced
    long stemmed crimson rose
    thorned to prove angelic love.

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