TRIPPED UP & Dropping to the ground

Alan Bern

alan bern 1.jpg


Sometimes when I stub

I want to fall down

Into fine floating

Critical angle

Without the landing

Not our Icarus

But another flyer

Closer to the ground

No one can stop me

That’s the same problem

But there’s no sunshine

Near midnight in hall

Travel to empty


I will keep stumbling

Even over nothing

And end near seated

Not all parallel

To earth hovering

Lovely but obtuse

Above and never

Quite finishing up

Down or laid full out

Alan bern 2.jpg

Dropping to the ground


The only thing dropping to the ground

That may not flinch me

Now is my body, different wincing.


All else falling down

Startles and flinches me head-to-foot

And sole-back-to-crown.


Then, wide ovalling around Berkeley’s 

3rd World Strike Rallies,

1969, to duck arrest


Again and lose my

Probation to Cincinnati jail.

Protests broad, multi.


Still would I drop down, avoid police

And National Guard,

Helicoptered nerve gas, Reagan’s tests.


These demonstrations

New warm my heart but bring me to shake

In new ways, worry.


They’re past overdue and lovely in

Their wide breadths and scopes.

But Virus will not rest infecting.


Yelling and marching

Must be masked and who will quarantine

To protect those loved.

Everyone brings back Antebellum

Not for an old South,

But for the new one flinching in birth.


All now should startle

Over new long Civil War again.

How can this one end


Without a bloodying red of our States,

Our states of calmed mind

Thrashed into shadow and dimmed far down.




     And I gathered in

     PTSD from my pregnant wife

     Falling out of bed,


     Her brain bleeding. Her recovery

     Never happened: endless

     Her loud yelling and no near recall.


     After 40 years

     At times I still cannot sleep with ease

     Heart, head race until


     Finally I rest. This is Virus, too,

     And startling keeps on

     Moving us all in new directions.




Terrible. Doubting

How survival can manifest this

Dropping to the ground.

alan bern 3.jpg
alan bern 4.jpg

Retired children’s librarian Alan Bern is a published/exhibited photographer and the author of three books of poetry. Alan is cofounder with artist/printer Robert Woods of the fine press/publisher Lines & Faces,

Recent awards include: honorable mention for Littoral Press Poetry Prize (2021); flash fiction finalist for Ekphrastic Sex (2021); first runner-up for the Raw Art Review’s Mirabai Prize for Poetry, 2020.

Recent photos published include:,, and

It is clear that Alan favors both hybridity and complex collaboration: he performs with

dancer/choreographer Lucinda Weaver as PACES and also with musicians from Composing Together.

Thanks to Abbe Blum for her help with this sequence.

Ranjith Sivaraman
Halt  / About Words:

Alan Bern