In Memoriam of Henry G. Shirley by Brannon O’Brennan

Time lapse photo of lights of cars driving on road
Photo by Eric Weber on Unsplash

A sky god laments unintended consequences, observing the artery that injects the city with


Suburban sanguines resigned to short trip long lines.

Mr. Shirley never lived to see the six figure thousands daily realize his vision atop his slitherslow


Farther below, heads sway back and forth in unison like temporary bulrushes whose rhythms are
enforced by trafical breezes dancing over an asphalted current. Only liars want the river today.
Downhill currents defy gravity, speed slows as two fifths of the Defense Department drifts by,
and the tourist landmarks peek out the tops of their heads tentatively to see what’s coming,
before suddenly disappearing into the gray leviathan that is the target of the bullrushers.

This is not a river for leisure, like those under innertubed cheerios carrying happy children and

watchful mothers from point a to point b.

Time is of the essence and the current is weak at 8:13.

Four more, three more, two more years a woman at the speed of walk thinks, “then I am so fucking done with ‘job with great benefits.’” Spoken with conviction as if she is the first to say it.

Son, daughter, husband.

Caloried, colleged, chemoed.

Henry G’s is a safe place with privacy glass everywhere.

Where you can be honest about how you feel about your path,

and your boss,

who can’t hear or see you cry behind your sunglasses from his office across the Potomac.

Brian Brennan
Brannon O’Brennan is a writer from Northern Virginia and his work been published in the literary journals Within and Without Magazine, Periwinkle Pelican Lit, and The Rye Whiskey Review, as well as shortlisted for the Empyrean Literary Poetry Award. Additional work will soon be published in White Cresset Arts Journal and Yale University’s The Perch. He is currently seeking literary representation for his upmarket crime fiction novel THROUGHLINE, a novel about a dysfunctional family of outlaws and the effects of trauma across generations.

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