The Brain Names Itself

Melissa Barrett
Fruit salad in a watermelon bowl
Photo via Pixabay

The brain named Leif Erikson and Verizon.
Named our dog After after “after,” my favorite 
preposition. The brain named looners, nooners, 
and euphemisms. Brought an al dente noodle 
to the spaghetti house. The brain invented paint by numbers 
with Bob Ross and painted numbers on wooden cubes 
and a wood of painted bark. It invented acronyms 
and contractions. DTF at two o’clock. The brain 
invented measurements for precise timekeeping 
and the idea that time is a social construct. 
The brain thinks a thought and thinks about thinking. 
You don’t get much more meta than a fruit salad 
served from a watermelon basket. The brain wrote 
the heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit. 
The brain traced lines from stars and starred the best lines 
from books. The brain wrote books and turned some 
into props, like the hollowed-out Bible that held alcohol
in The Simpsons. The other Homer spoke his books  
and hollowed out a horse. The brain named Zima, Zafiro 
Añejo, Helen, and the hippocampus, which comes 
in the shape of a seahorse. The brain invented comparison. 
The brain invented cramming. The brain invented irony. 
Imagine all the med students trying to commit 
the functions of the hippocampus to memory.   

Melissa Barrett’s poems have recently appeared in BOMB, Harvard Review, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, Animal Shelter, Best New Poets, and Best American Poetry. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, and works at an urban public middle school.