The Lab

The Lab is a nonprofit experimental art and performance space located in the Mission District of San Francisco.

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False Starts: Brandon Brown and Jocelyn Saidenberg

Brandon Brown is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Top 40 (Roof) and the forthcoming Shadow Lanka (Big Lucks).  His poetry and prose have appeared recently in Open Space, the blog and magazine of SFMOMA, Fanzine, Art Practical, Maggy, Elderly, New American Writing, Berkeley Poetry Review, and Where Eagles Dare.  He is an editor at Krupskaya and lives in Oakland.

Jocelyn Saidenberg's books include Mortal City, Cusp, Negativity, Shipwreck and most recently Dead Letter published by Roof Books in 2014. She is the founding editor of KRUPSKAYA Books and one of the twelve curators of Right Window. Born and raised in New York City, she has lived and worked in San Francisco since 1994.


Brandon Brown


so I came to the days of the Resistance
I didn’t know anything but style
It was a style made totally of light
memorable recognition
of sun. It could never fade
not even for an instant
even as Europe trembled
on its deadliest evening
we escaped from Casarsa
with our stuff in a cart
to a ruined village
among canals and vineyards it was pure light
my brother left, it was a mute morning
March, in a train, disguised
his pistol in a book it was pure light
he lived a long time in the mountains
which shone like paradise in the blue gloom
of Friulian plains it was pure light
in the attic of our farmhouse my mother
always stared at those mountains
hopeless, she saw the future it was pure light
with a few poor people I lived
a glorious life, persecuted
by despicable rhetoric it was pure light
the day of death came
Independence Day, the martyred world
knew itself again in the light…
the light was the thought of justice
I didn’t know what kind of justice
all light equal to all other light
then it changed, the light like an uncertain morning
a waxing dawn that spread all over
Friulian fields and canals
struggling workers in the light
the rising dawn was a light I mean
beyond the eternity of style
in history, justice has been
the realization of a humane
distribution of money, hope
maybe, brighter than that
new light


Jocelyn Saidenberg


now the other plant that I bought at
her dying is under attack its impossible
leaves laced into themselves furry by
stems being eaten by someone
I’ve tried pepper & soap but each
morning it’s still more diminished
I’ve learned all her chickens are
dead also taken and eaten one by one
by foxes for everyone’s hungry
                                to build a tomb
through it the mistake of existing
hunger finds no relief for to end yet
again why more for yourself than for others
the full moon again & what punctures
the limit each day more diminished
regardless the pepper regardless the soap fallen
for ruined in use repeatedly the rain
is prodigious not the drudge of narration
or admission of images neither living nor
not time’s keeping I’ve lost
the pretext or what’s obvious by
absence even ghosts in this instance
excluding the shades fall outside


False starts is curated by Steven Seidenberg (