Brian Komei Dempster

Blue flame                                        in the eye's corner,stove on                    high, we brace                                        for his flint                    and spark, our darksurprise, his smile                                        jolts, head                    unleashed, little body                                                          arched, straining                                        in the highchair, we stand                                  to face                    anything, she steadies                                        his tray, eggs bubble                    in the pot, I lunge                                        for his spoon, his purpleelephant, water boils                                        over sides, we look                    to each other, sensethe sizzle, his bowl                    clattering, a reverse                                                        crater, we shake off                                        faults, shells                    crack, windowshut, we smell                                        the heat, hardened                                                        yolks, his brain's singed                    gray, the scorchedblack dome,                we are all                                hollowed out.

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Print This Poem

Share on print
Photo of Brian Komei Dempster

Brian Komei Dempster’s debut book of poems, Topaz (Four Way Books, 2013), received the 15 Bytes 2014 Book Award in Poetry. His second poetry collection, Seize (Four Way Books, 2020), was Silver Winner of a 2021 Human Relations Indie Book Award and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award, Julie Suk Award, and National Indie Excellence Award in Poetry. Dempster is editor of From Our Side of the Fence: Growing Up in America’s Concentration Camps (Kearny Street Workshop, 2001) and Making Home from War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement (Heyday, 2011). He is a professor of rhetoric and language at the University of San Francisco, where he serves as Director of Administration for the Master’s in Asia Pacific Studies program.

“The human body, simultaneously an instance of a promise and the site of trauma and a promise broken, is the boundless occasion of these rich and engaging poems. I love most about them the music of thinking in images, how it encompasses feeling and singing, ranging from the raw and open to the exquisite and philosophical. There is so much yearning in these poems, and so much rejoicing, and wondering out loud about the meaning of our time on earth, especially in the face of pain and suffering.”
—Li-Young Lee

“Brian Komei Dempster’s central subject—his son’s epilepsy—could not be more freighted with risk, and yet Seize achieves a pitch-perfect harmony of lament and praise, suffering and solace."
—Patrick Phillips

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.