Two Poems By sam sax

From His New Collection, Bury It

September 27, 2018  By Sam Sax

First Will and Testament

i look to history to explain & this is my first mistake
when i say history i mean the stone
half-buried by the roadside has witnessed
more tragedy than a filthy glass of a water. i look to the water
but all i see is dust. i look to the dust & all there is
is history. here’s a feather & well of blood
to write the labor movement across the fractal
back of infrastructure. here’s a father leaving home
to build railroads with his bare hands. write the laws
that claw the eyes from owls, that build a wall
between the river & the thirsty, that drag families
from one hell into the next. o this house of mine
was built by men & o i, a man sometimes, pass
through its acid chambers & leave out the backdoor
dust. when i say history i mean what lives in us,
i mean the faux gold chain around my neck,
the diseases passed from generation to generation
dating back to a time before christ, i mean any word
traced to its origin is a small child begging for water.

–previously published in Guernica


Missing Persons

it’s silly
missing anyone
who lives


or maybe
the opposite


you can only
miss the living
in a way
that ferries
marrow up
your spine
in one furious
red curtain


or no
the dead
they’re the ones
that open
the asphalt
for ghost-buses
to pour forth from
covered in
ink-black names
scrwld across
the windows


paint-thick names
names so dark
inside you can blink
or be blinded
or die
& be unable to tell
the difference


i miss everyone
all the time.


my room’s a coffin
with one glass wall


there’s a parade
to welcome me


the horns
are so bright
& blood-drunk
you might think
was being born


the bullet tore
through my neighbor’s brain
like a nail
through a fig


i began
to love him
only once


the ambulances
sang into
the radio-singed stillness


the street after
was empty
as a body
when the soul
climbs out
of the hole
in its head
& becomes
a god

–previously published in Prairie Schooner


From Bury ItCourtesy of Wesleyan University Press. Copyright © 2018 by sam sax. 

Sam Sax
Sam Sax
Sam Sax is a queer, jewish poet, and educator. He's the author of Madness (Penguin, 2017) winner of The National Poetry Series and ‘Bury It’ (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. He’s received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, & the MacDowell Colony. He’s the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion, winner of the Gulf Coast Prize, The Iowa Review Award, & American Literary Award. His poems have appeared in BuzzFeed, The New York Times, The Nation, Poetry Magazine and other journals. He’s the poetry editor at BOAAT Press and will be a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University this Fall.

More Story
Lit Hub Daily: September 26, 2018 Writers write. And also, they don't? 25 famous writers on writer's block. | Lit Hub Kristen Arnett: librarian and tech...

Become a Lit Hub Supporting Member: Because Books Matter

For the past decade, Literary Hub has brought you the best of the book world for free—no paywall. But our future relies on you. In return for a donation, you’ll get an ad-free reading experience, exclusive editors’ picks, book giveaways, and our coveted Joan Didion Lit Hub tote bag. Most importantly, you’ll keep independent book coverage alive and thriving on the internet.