Failing to amplify and punish
my failings, a quiet easy person floats
into your instantly Buddhistic location.
That’s still untrue, but nobody notices.

Among the unmindful and unmusical,
love means scraping for reassurance,
finding the answers lost.
Somewhere you have lived as other people

in a sepulchral city, a lacy
swan-cluttered blur of turrets, I suppose,
as darkness steals in through moving cracks.
My thief, you’re coming home

to terrorize me. Meanwhile, this epiphany
comes to you: We were not born
in locomotion, nor does it feel that way
on this train. We are not making

memos. This is not Keats’ autumn.
You and I are not reinventing the quatrain.
No one in the boxcar is rhyming or inseminating anyone.
No one is arguing about ontology

or claiming one’s diction is predictable,
or watching a final crucifixion pass us by
at that last
quick intersection.


About the Author

Stephen Massimilla is a poet, scholar, professor, and painter. His multi-genre volume, Cooking with the Muse (Tupelo, 2016), won the Eric Hoffer Book Award, the National Indie Excellence Award, the Independent Author Network Book of the Year Award, and others. His recent collection, The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat, was selected in the Stephen F. Austin University Press Prize contest, and his volume Almost a Second Thought was runner-up for the Salmon Run National Poetry Book Award, selected by X.J. Kennedy. He has also received the Bordighera Poetry Prize for Forty Floors from Yesterday (CUNY); the Grolier Prize for Later on Aiaia; a Van Rensselaer Award, selected by Kenneth Koch; multiple Pushcart Prize nominations; and other honors. He holds an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University and teaches literary modernism, among other subjects, at Columbia University and The New School.