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Friday, March 6, 2015

Ten Poems by Matt Sanderson

Your hand was pressed against this page
flesh against wood

I want you to touch me like that

Write for me again
I want the font of your hand
your soft pretty hand
carving lines into paper

Name my desires
you want as your own 

Make contact, leave your mark
Press yourself

your whole self

against me entirely
How empty is a life 
that does not dread
flowers on graves?

Love is despair 
at its own sunset

I will fight back the nights
bring you a daisy a day
to protect you from time

sing you poems of ecstasy
to shield you from silence

feed you tea and oranges
to celebrate your body

Death now seems a terrible injustice 

You are the reason I fear the end 
Sound should sound 
like the desire in your voice


Now I hear the mystery 
Now I hear the longing

Hide with me in the old church


and listen for God
I want to die with you
in a whiteout
drowning in deepest warm cold
pitched into black
the warmest cold calm

I want to die with you in a whiteout

Take me with you 

I want to be immediately
completely forgotten

The world we formed
was more than enough
A voice is flesh
vibrating against itself
a throat on fire
with an electric hum

I love your voice
The soft bloom of your voice
swelling and exploding in my chest

A heart is flesh
pushing back against itself
It doesn't know what it wants
frantic and frenzied
thrashing around in the dark

A heart is an endless civil war
flesh beating itself to death

I love the chaos of your heart

We are flesh
a plenum of restive flesh
now stilled from within
My hands smell like your chest
I fill my whole body
I’m at the edge of my skin
Everything is flesh

Why did it take us so long
to lie down and sink
into the mist and the clover?

Because your face can’t be pictured
and your name can’t be spoken

even when I take you in my arms
and we slowly tumble backwards
into the endless empty fall
Laugh with me
that fearless laughter
deeper than the world
lost in the depths of all Being

We will dissolve
fall and die
into the first ecstasy

Let go

The Boundless will catch us
We can learn much
from those who paint the countryside

just before the first snowfall

musicians who let silence
swallow the field of sound

Will I ever have lived
and loved you enough to let go?

Love is the terror
of time running out 

We are so young, my love! 
Much younger than we know

And yet we do not have long
Your hand will not
remain in mine always

We are not ready

to take the leap with joy

Let’s make love
to practice and prepare
I want to come find you
push myself into you
pass through to the other side

find you beyond
waiting for me once more

But you’re never close enough
to even be out of reach

You have no real birthday

There's no way to sculpt you

You don’t dance on the ground

You float and you fade
in the city in the rain

The light in your eyes isn’t light
Your voice doesn’t come from your throat

You aren’t beautiful like a flower
Your beauty is that of dreams and ideals

and yet you are bone blood and tissue
wrapped in skin and hair

There's a skull behind your face
Your eyes are meat lodged in bone
Your hands are earth ash and dirt

I just want to hold you

So look with me in the mirror
and realize 
we’re here right now

But only one of us
will die in the other's arms
I wish I could walk with you forever
wandering endless paths

But so much joy is unbearable
because I once was so chained
so lost in the never without you

Now I feel colors and trumpets!
I know why there is a morning
always a new day

I smile with children and animals
I see my calm reflected
in the still waves of your mind

But so much joy is unbearable
when I am this new this

so exposed to tomorrow
and never as happy before

I love the past that led me here
and now as my future
to know what gives you ecstasy
and cross the limits beside you

But so much joy is unbearable

I once was without you

Now all I do is transcend

Thursday, December 11, 2014


i.    constellating

Loving anyone may hurt you bad.
Why then take the risk?

Those of us without agendas
know we do it
for a constellation of spirits
who have existed
who have yet to exist.

Poets and mothers and perverts and lovers
whose hearts they do not stop
erupting love
making for unity
islands to join.

Therefore I write not for her
but a constellation of spirits
who began my tradition
and claim the precedent
to what end no one knows.

I write not for her
but for everyone
who has existed
who has yet to exist.

For no one, though she is.
Destiny is not to be
is just a word we say
when something right

is out of reach.

I said it all to silence
in essence.

My metaphor,
my unicorn

you destroy me.

ii.   as a breeze goes by

Liquor stress and love
have pushed men
to rash action for forever
and all three tonight
make me say

I've made my jungles, watched them wither.
People love you don't love them
I love people don't love me

make me say
I've never felt
this way.

Blue butterflies and brilliant streams are waiting
somewhere hidden, within reach.

Why not take the risk?
Romans of the decadence never had so much
anxiety to keep them moving.

Black hair Crystal skin Venus lake Why you?

My metaphor
my unicorn

you are everything.

iii. a golden dot disassembles the day

All the polite things eversaid undergirded
with unspoken knowledge men pretend
they do not know. I know

double love, silent deception,
etcetera etcetera.

The birds followed me like reminders
of who's missing from the rain.

It has been that way millennia.
What events could change
millennia, desire?
the woman who could save the world?

iv.        porcelain don't say so

Beauty frailty and a little danger--
all we want
hung before me like a silver spider
with swooling jaws 
promising paradise now.

How could I feel less deeply my dream?
Empty streets where I would wish
crowded streets would quiet down

became the stage dejected humans
gorgeous humans
protected by St. Mama Cass
entered so sadly

promised things-to-themselves
late in the day—
chocolates and shoes, reliability
without commitment, attention
without looks.

(Love me don’t want me.
Dream me don’t need me.
Garter belts silence raspberries rain.)

Destiny is not to be—Destiny,
or what you think it is
not to be

just something close
you must surpass.
How could I feel less deeply
the one who touched me?

v.    right for a moment

My metaphor
with thighs in boots
makes garbage islands

The seconds do rock faster now
around the clock
blitzing the danger where rules don’t apply
somewhere in the quarantine
of midlife coupons
violent survival
extraneous desiderata

etcetera etcetera.
I don’t like Fate but consider the chances
people fall in love
even today

with dreams just dreams and dreams
if she slips into your mind
when her lips look up at you
with dreams just dreams and dreams.

Feeling thinking living on them
til Oh shit, I’m not wrong
all borders between
what's classified as health
and danger take these pills

into a fantasy
her love will solve the world.

I let go of the cliff.

vii.    extrapolations on a soul

She is the reason for flowers. She is the reason for murder.
She is whatever you describe. She is whatever you decide.

Such thoughts will launch consideration
of destiny and chemistry
the population, odds,
the flaws in one’s own engineering,

then a grand casting off
what it means, face to face in the night,
finally to see
in one's eyes
something that says
Because of me.
But evenings still ended when the LCD won.
95 degrees and purring like an engine
tuned to the heavens’ rotation
of ancient ideas:
How can I?
When will I?
Do I dare?

My wife knew nothing.

Lies egos and mirrors—
my instruments of navigation.
Crazy as an animal in such a daze
to be the genes and kings of Cleopatras
crazy to the end of cruelty

the brain blacks out as killers and the ill
in mind must testify

my life as insignificant-part-of-destructive-entity
a swamp you dredge
for evidence of crime, misfortune
the remains of friendship.
I wrote these words in a habit I can’t break
on the cutting edge of histrionics
and thought they meant the world.

Yes, I wept too
at the cataclysmic cancer abduction
of unborn sociopathic
anal crash victim

but when I stopped
I wondered why.

And all I do is wonder why.
There is nothing but that question
when you have given up
on understanding.

viii.    and i began by understanding

In a way
I've seen it all
and she is all
that I remember.

And everything is not enough
to keep amazing one who sees it all.
Even the swoon of tears down the torso
melds into the quiet Sunday
I drink to the scorpions--

Hit me with your wands
make me something bland
so I can aim for something better
at the bottom of the glass
As a bottomless forest disheartens
the search for intimate gold

no longer human but a set of senses
scanning meaning in her laughter
barbs and generalities

a poem with no end began
full of truth and myth and misconception

webbing me in patterns
I began by understanding
and came to detest

til spinning in eternity
I wished that poem
found a place to rest.

ix.        little death by reptile

Almost past devastation devastation again.

Afraid to initiate afraid to reciprocate
ready to outlast the everlasting

I said I could do nothing.
Instead I acted and my actions
yielded nothing.

So opposites became identical.
I was ordinary and so wrong

and I killed myself a year
with the same old song.
Crocodiles, come drown me in your sea of love

Blue scarves stir the freezing breeze
and disappear into the tartar air
where conversation’s tough and dull
and the windows of sedans
carry her reflection

toward delusions I am prone
to live from time to time

as I see myself
from up above
saying Don't do it

as I do
indulge in illusions
that blow up in my face.
Slowly thusly
I learned how Destiny
has something strange in place
and not what I had dreamed of.

Crocodiles come drown me in your sea of love.

x.         again and again never and then

One sleek shape meets another
in darkness when it's cool
at my own fucking baby shower!
in the sunlight, all the time

briefly, without consequence
but to me
nothing ever was warmer.
A great black lion on her way to the car
frantically tossing the white loveliness
of her paranoid luminescence

vapor trails like wolverine claws
from the airport outreaching
her mind, with engines,
burning away
the complex/midatlantic/artisan skies.

Unrestrainable progress said
How do you expect to stop me
and my independent lifestyle?

Her world, it turned
so on and so on:

The only thing I’ll ever understand
I know nothing about.

xi.        modernity v. antiquity

Because she cannot lose me
she accepts me. 
I too am troubled by this
and wonder what she wants

all the way to dream
a lonely place
I guess I love:

a room we tell the night
to change its mind.
And then as one
we talk til dawn.

Beautiful but it wasn't that way.
Enlightenment is darkening me.

xii.       awake at the crack of time

Fast forward to love.

Here she was
in hot red pants
giving me her keys
and when I brought her near me
a feeling I call by her name.
She was never without wine
tales of Thailand and Peru.
Never looked at you when you came.
Never was impressed
her interests were now yours.

Soon I realized
she was like some crashed device
where memory disappeared.
You’ve got to be insane to get by.

The news said 
it was a night of roller skating turned tragic,
rapists were out, the world was changing,
inventions were blooming, people were rich
and people were poor.
And there were reasons for everything

so many millions why
we're born with our handicaps
and how we can break them
and why things happen
quite like they do

and how none of it's real
unless you believe it to be so.
You've got to be insane to get by

or her words would be as clear
as the perfection of her face.
Dreams begin
to stand for reality.
Acronyms people
poverty wealth
Links for ideas
Units for multitudes.

I thought I'd found the only original
among the duplicates
and it killed me
it cost infinity.

xii.    1%

When a 1% chance of success seems certain
is in fact a zero from the day you were born

life is hallucination 
to reify or die trying.

I am acting in a cloud
I do not want to rain.

This is where I went
snubbed by secrets
she would not tell

of all the men who love her
less than I have
since Day 1.

xiii.   tremors

She spreads her legs like a honey-dripping bar of white chocolate
and destroys a Cappodimonte mace on my head

She is the editor of my stones against the sky
She shows the blue string she hides beneath the night

She is the reason for flowers  She is the reason for murder
She is whatever you decide  She is whatever you describe

How can I feel less deeply?

xiv.    Chet Baker played as she barged in the door

All words fail when you dream.
It is ugly.
You are always incoherent
and you are always incorrect.

Nothing mattered anymore. I could pretend
but didn’t want to. I could rescind what I had said
but I could not.

The polls meant something I took for tomorrow.
Time was the space I was falling through
faster than ever at entry.

I did not make love in the middle of stadiums.
I did not have the body of Julius Caesar.

Someone else did. He was back in town.
I would support unending rain.
Every dream spun
negative feedback

looping truths opposed to one another
philosophies in turmoil
exegeses of geneses that did not jive
traditions that diverged
animals that prey.

No news. No lack of news. No silence left to say.

Her love would solve the world.

xv. fantasy crash

At which point you realize
the problem is you.

The struggle means nothing--
Nero was a poet.

Monsters get their meat
and jackals what we can--
a glimpse of that testarossa rainbow

fat with finality
blood on the jeans
and fantasies crashing the doors--

heartsick renegades torching the fortress
in madness
on fire.
I said it all to silence
in essence

not just the Hilton but everything—

My heart is burning and you are in it.

No news. No lack of news. No silence left to say
to a woman closing the door

who writes the next day
as if nothing has happened.

xvi. rock bottom

Cash green as nightvision
exploded through Maryland subdivisions.

Basic measures of security dissolved.
The fat dungeons slaved
the elite rigged
campaigns went disarrayed
social-health dilemmas flew.
It was wildfire season.
Explosives went off
the power went out
distrust reigned supreme—
anarchy fraud infidelity theft
toxins antitoxins
our desires purifiers
information wrong
a truth deception, the best
on average,
nothing more

til night over nothing resolved
mossed on the beach overhead.

Eventually I was. Eventually
I wasn’t

living in a cloud of cheap perfume 
and cigarette fumes.

How do I ascend
to what?

How do I feel less deeply
everything gone wrong?

xvii.      alcohol for pain

So anger at a woman
becomes anger at the world.

I garden traumas
because it is always the season

and hang the future
on a resolution to the secrets
I wish in secret never end.

The mystery of why
I am nothing in her sky

a luxury puzzle to piece
as the country goes dead
and I stare out the starlight
decoding decoding.

In this way
criminals are born.
Masterpieces made.
Jobs are abandoned.
Lawsuits filed.
Plots created.

Life is lost.
Or changes course.
The moon fills me with consolations
as galleons long ago
spilled from speared sides
blood and emeralds into the sharks.

There’s too many people to love.
I’m out of control.

xviii.    injured buffalo

The ripening globe softens the rind
melts in its own putrefaction.
All rhythms expose themselves for deconstruction.
Heroes cheat. Sages lie. Glory flaunts.

We run for cover.
We cry that which
has no cliché.
We lick our wounds
for the taste of it.
I knew what I was looking for.
It wasn’t what I found.

Destiny is not to be
a woman of open doors.

It is a great black lion
hunting phantoms of her own

a springloaded Love You
defending her image of me.

xix.    the language you must use

Every day's a list
of names and verbs
and other words
aligned in ways
that signal meaning

that can be stacked in ways
they correspond to feelings--

how you stare
into the freeway window

how the limitless can’t be quantified
how others think you’re them

how a mother, if you have one,
knows that something’s wrong

Heated thinking melts the walls
between dreams and the millions
of evils you see
come random disaster

and wonder Why?
I was the safest man alive

because I knew the answer

Because I heard her speaking words
no one wants to hear:

If things had broken differently,
things might have broken differently

I deal a different language now.
I understand the meaning
without her saying so.
On the side of the highway--
Cupid dismembered
like a hated plush toy.

Tonight let’s soak the moon in gas
and see what happens to my mind.

xx.      a horrible week of california

So began my nothing year
following millionaires around the sun
playing getting played
thoughts stuck in neurons
like fish in jellyfish:

If I close my eyes
can I squeeze the evil out?

If I squeeze the evil
do I lose the good?

I’d grown young and fat and insulting.
Birdsong reminded me
of early-morning arrests

carnage, her underwear.

patchouli and blueberries, death.

Beautiful things of the terrible.
Terrible things of the opposite.

It was like driving on the emergency brake.
One day I must stop being extraunique.
After feeling through lies
with keywords and codes
the truth blows in like solar wind
you do not recognize
and cannot breathe.

But it's real, it must be understood, and acted on.

My problems and yours
big as they are
cannot be stopped

no matter the size of the heart
the breadth of intentions
the strength of the bond

except that there is medicine
and with it
you can see
what others see
what she sees

in a sickness.
So sad I dealt by amalgamation of cure
and poisoned the outcome probably.
Like some sorry politician
kicking screaming to regret

spiritually off the trax
desirous of being
a man I was not was
options blooming
at the speed of disease
yesterday's massacre an island away

menacing light of the sunset
lending gold to the clouds of my war.

So sad I dealt by amalgamation of cure.

xxi. memories of peabody

I am the very worst of time
when I wonder how she's burning hers.

In a rainforest bookshop overlooking the pampas
reading with both hands and a smile on her face

Somewhere in Florida melting away
housewife and tether to a rich-bland-handsome fiancée

On top of a villa
where Romans of the decadence
play funny games in little fountains
with broken ships and all her questions


One day I must stop being extraunique.
There is nothing to it but sadness.

I drive alone down a storm-steel highway
thinking the future
into being
my desire

thinking if I will it
hard enough
it happens
no questions.

Facts will be in vogue,
contingencies in remission.
Her glasses on my nightstand.
Her little arms across the sheets and me.

Enlightenment is taking me.

Taking me down a strange highway
maybe the wrong highway
to pick up signals from Richmond Philly
Wilmington Annapolis
to pick up signals
here by accident.

Everything is not enough
to keep amazing one who wants it all.
Take the unbelievable relief
of glaciers in the right light,
and that’s the way it was:

glaciers ten shades of black
delicate as tendons
so black it doesn’t matter.

And I wondered when
I would see again

why I see things
which aren’t there

why I see things
I want to be

as they must be
if there are no gods.

xxiii.    a natural phenomenon

The past

but for me
what for?

Future days are what I need
to filter me

all the places in my mind
where she arises saying No.
For the last time No.
A pattern spun by nature and repeating
I speak of her as just someone
to myself when I'm alone.

She'll break her heart
but not with me.
And I will wonder
what it is to hear her crying
and who I'd be to know.

The dopamine her smile
released still releases

such things for me to wonder
as I pass the edge of sleep

and spend the night with someone new
crying on my mind.

Concrete and trees and the firetruck
moves through town slowly.

I put my hands back on the cliff
and the cliff bled.

xxiv.     thinking in daisies

I've found ways to kill dreams.
To unremember, look ahead

to booze drug work and medicate away
til sun and moon and television stars
are sun and moon and television stars.

There is no meaning everywhere.
I've thought in daisies for so long.
My face quivers as I geiger near the truth:
I am no longer evil.
I am a civilian.

We are together
desperately in the same house.

My wife knew something
in me changed.

xxv.     the doc

He said emotional  masochist and  I said yes.

One day I must stop being extraunique.
I can't be confessional. Therapy's dull.
The fog is painful to wander
painful to write about
in words that are painful to read.

History must be unredacted, reredacted.
But the past can't be edited.
A reader would be lost.

It's all about shit from two decades past--
a look your dad gave you
a lesson you learned
incorrectly from mom
a way of lying
your experience inflects
a way of being
Desire infects.

So Romance gets
its diagnosis.

At the end you will awaken.
You will hear the things you spoke.

She will look at you
as if you'd had a stroke.

xxvi. literal illness

While convalescing at my sister’s mansion
I had time and the wind and whiskey and shit.

Every demon I had fostered rose in thanks
for memories of her labia.

I spoke to hell on the hillsides of exurbia
wondering could I sneak back to heaven.
Where in the maze I’d lost sense.
What words I spoke fucked the spell. 

When from my hands it all fell.

It was not me
I was assured
senselessly by those who listened.

But in my head I still was destined
to find her foreign world
a foreign world

with a language so beyond me

I would always try to learn.
I stared friends down 
til I was staring into empty chairs
torturing my brain for information
waiting for an email to absolve me or distract
or offer me some pills
to fix whatever act
might cause me next
to pour out in my vintage verse
a case for why our love should never die.

Never die? Ha ha.
Brutal for dreamers
this modern world hit hard.
And she was my first taste of blood.

I could feel the romance
dripping from me

transfused with some

contemptuous liquid instead.

xxvii.   yet another song

I fought a thousand years to win and die.
Obliteration, rejuvenation.
A soft bite on the thigh
that made her moan and come and say
I never knew I felt this way 
and then to reconsider 
I feel an object under your touch.
Such turns in love I guess are common 

though I am largely unexposed.
If love and adoration are so lost
upon the lost
then what am I to do but lose?

All that followed was
I guess this really is

a diaspora of memories--
to the feeling that came

when I landslid in passion
she told me how she is
notoriously tight
got a look in her eyes
like I was a new kind of victim. 

To things I don’t want to forget.
To things that must be
blasted down.

Because I do not want
and can't expect
a zombie love
brought back from whatever
died that month inside her

even if it means
a fascinating life
looking for the door(s)
she hides behind--woman, lady, girl
in every stage of endless breakdown.

My role was clear--to disappear.
Fuck the city find it dull 
turn around and try again.
And then forget what I am bad at letting go--

the sounds I made her make
the smile she flashed in Gettysburg
the August night we briefly grew.
A wintry mix
of pain disappointment and loathing
waited high like buzzards on the watch.
Influenza came to stay
and I welcomed it with latenightsworking

a broken heart a million questions
theories out the ass
resolutions to do more
to burn the love from me
idols and expectations
descriptions analogies.
And so I learned 
most muses do not want the job.
Would prefer to sit alone in Subaru Imprezas
listening to NPR and wondering how they ended
up in Baltimore, starring in the mind
of some obsessive fool
who thinks the year is 1589

and cannot see her as a woman
she is not:
Screaming at the opera singer
an apartment down below

fidgeting in sleep, crazed by every coffee stain,
independent, needless
a gem tossed by elements
into a form 
it owes not to itself 
but nonetheless stunning--

a real live human  
fabricated from the beauty of the broken
lives we lea
as broken lost and selfish apes
searching the city
for what makes us hopeless:
the parade of flawed men
I joined as she floated
away in the airwaves
and set my sights
on a parade of flawed ladies
approaching me fast.

xxviii.   reincarnation

How do I begin again
all the same material
emerge as something new?

Change insignificance
to confidence?
Destruction all around?
I stared out windows that defined me--
highway skyline downtown marvelous--
trapped behind towers of data
and a bank of messages to weed
churning on what life remained
what gods planned
with their ancient hands trembling,
fifty-dollar AMEX gift cards
meant to keep me going
in lieu of beatings drugs and economic shame

til nothing was left but a bottle and some pills.
Then November like an avalanche of slate
came with promises of cheap oil and turkey
and frosted thistles made white flowers
that would irritate a baby’s reach

my glowers deeper now and people
of concern concerned
her arctic inferno
would blow me down for good
in a pond of hot tears and ice
melted only by the sweat
of a bender
and dreams that she’d dyed blonde
and moved to Russia to avoid me.

I woke up haunted, tried to think
of other women--
those West-coast girls
with bulimia self-confidence
threesomes and careers
knowing only time would trick the pain.

All else was a lie.

I was too busy to die.
Some people thought I did the moral thing.

My friend was going through a rough time.
His wife had taken up Candy Crush
and weight.
He’d grown an ursine beard.

If you describe for such a man
love for a woman
so strangely made
you may hasten his divorce.

Some will say you did the moral thing. 
Some will say 
it's you that's broken.

xxix.  that dreaded X

Rewind to love.

Ultimately she did destroy me.
I saw that glimpse of real wild love
like a ghost among the ruins
and inexplicably approached
left afterward to wonder and pause 
Did I ever see that at all?

That hook she put in you
must hurt real bad 
someone said to me.

At that point I realized
I am ancient history.
I should be painting masculine bulls
investing in real estate
speaking with accents

whatever it is I do not do
or cannot say
to make her forget
the future that she drives away.
She knows her beauty
does these things
and wonders why
she is alone.

Why I am not alone
and rich
or gorgeous
why someone is. He just left town.
Because she cannot lose me
she keeps me as her kindred eunuch.
Because I cannot lose her
I deal by amalgamation of cure.
I write for myself
the way out of love.

I write for a constellation of spirits
who have existed, who have yet to exist

who have seen a ghost among the ruins
and inexplicably approached

to spend their afterward days
the subject of fables
one day one may
understand so grandly
our poems
their sentiments
need not be.

Friends will be friends
into eternity.

xxx. cold romance

Destiny is not to be--
just something close, resembling
the shadow of the aim.

Thirty verses in
and sixteen months deciphering
I like to think I am enlightened.

She is not the jackpot
and I am done pretending.

But really love’s bloodsport
still makes me bleed.

Every day in vain I've thought
someday some way
the space between us
might just close.

And here we are at poem's rest.
with nothing to say
for all we have said
but love will solve the world

when love cannot
solve the world
on its own.

Even today I can feel her resist.
I can feel her resistance warning me so:

Don't live so raw.
Love with a filter.
Cuz destiny is not to be.

Destiny is something else

for both of us.
My metaphor,
ultimately, my memory.

My love. My devastation.
My untouchable