Back to Issue Thirteen.



& here i am: somewhere
in the middle of my life
in the middle of texas
listening to a man
on the radio tell the story
of two brothers falling
from a high rise: one
survives, the other does
what you’d expect,
& i am lying on my back
listening for the sound
of skin against pavement,
for the radio to start
spilling over its limbs
& every place i’ve ever lived
was a desert once & will
become desert again: i call
my brother just to hear him
breathing & he’s an empty
sound, a scythe knifing still air:
how you can look back
on a life & see only salt there
& isn’t this gravity: the planet
sprinting through blackness
while i listen to another man
grieve his dead, knowing
my own brother might outlive me,
his voice a stone falling
through the line, landing
somewhere wet inside me
& outside my window
in the middle of texas
in the middle of the street
two boys in matching greek
jackets stumble drunk
through the dark, arms
desperate for the other,
bearing their terrible closeness,
fighting god to stay erect.



After Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib 

Always the sensitive child

The needle on my father’s record player

Would jump at the suggestion of movement

When dancing          the lyric would become

For many hours              my love              wind

All of my love

As it stood the standards were best played out of sequence

& vinyl was a new country to sink your teeth in

For fear of ruining the music

I’d let each note drag its battery through my stillness

& still were the wild legs of my heart

If only i’d known what loss would cause

The glasses to come crashing out of their cabinet

What needle would exaggerate each fingerprint left

Always tender i’ve grown into the kind of man who can’t walk

Through the produce aisle without weeping

Hearing my dead lover in the water & wind

Spilling over the collards

Every grapefruit tragic & taunting with its bitterness

& its sweet

sam sax is a 2015 NEA Creative Writing Fellow & Poetry Fellow at The Michener Center for Writers, where he serves as the Editor-In-Chief of Bat City Review. He’s the two time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion & author of the chapbooks A Guide To Undressing Your Monsters (Button Poetry, 2014), sad boy / detective (Black Lawrence Press, 2015), and All The Rage (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016). His poems are forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Boston Review, New England Review, Pleiades, Poetry Magazine, & other journals.

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