Preparing for Incarnations

(expanded edition, 1976)

by Louis Daniel Brodsky


Preparing a Shipment

I flip the lid on my trip to Tipton.
The sealed box, stapled and taped
For added security, contains hours
And pounds lost to a week’s labors
Expended upon an invisible boss.

My container has a prepaid waybill,
With unspecified weight and destination,
Addressed to any hometown
That memory inhabits. The impedimenta
Of the unsettled is deceptively scant.

Uprootings and changes are merely hegiras
To the depots of the soul’s city of dreams,
And fantasies extended like permutations
Beyond the mathematics of birth.
They require only one label,

With any name and mental state,
At nonrates. Every delivery
Confirms my being: I’m the contents

Shipped by me, received and signed for,
Every moment, on my sole authority,
And I alone am the insurance placed
On my self. Only my imperishable soul
Knows the scope of its real valuation.



This volume’s eighty chronologically arranged poems (comprising pieces from Cold Companionable Streams and the original Preparing for Incarnations) provide intense studies of small-town life from the perspective of Brodsky’s watchful poetic eye, perpetually ready to "take careful aim, speculate intuitively" on family, friends, neighbors, and employees. The verse seethes with images of an outsider floundering in the depths of the often-restrictive community around him and facing his own "private and totally asocial dying," in his daily struggle with the demanding roles of husband, new father, and plant manager.

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