Three Poems by Sam Sax

I.35 i watch him touch him self over a screen and pretend it is with my hands how you pull a quiver from an arrow. he moans and i grow jealous of the satellites.


i watch him touch him                     self over a screen
and pretend                                    it is with my hands

how you pull a quiver                          from an arrow.

he moans and i grow               jealous of the satellites.
their capacity for translation,           to code his sound
in numbers                         unbraiding in my speakers
lucky metal                                      audience of cables.

i know the wireless signal is all                   around me,
that i’m drowning in his                   unrendered noise.

how from a thousand miles away                 i can dam
myself                with the light spilling from his hands.

what magic is this?                           distance collapsed
into the length of a human breath.   what witchcraft?

six years ago a bridge between us                   collapsed
the interstate ate                            thirteen people alive
asphalt spilling                             like amputated hands
into the dark below.                  what is love but a river
that exists to eat                       all your excess concrete

appendages?                what is a voice but how it lands
wet in the body?                                    what is distance
but a place that can be reshaped     through language?

how i emulate and pull a keyboard       from the ashes.

how i gave him a river             and he became it’s king.

how any thing collapsed                           can be rebuilt.
take our two heaving torsos                           take them

how they fall like a bridge into the water
how they rise up alone from the sweat.




i never wanted to grow up to be anything horrible
as a man.  my  biggest fear was the hair they said
would    burst    from    my chest,    swamp    trees
breathing  as  i  ran.  i  prayed  for a different kind
of  puberty:  skin  transforming  into  floor boards,
muscle   into  cobwebs,   growing  pains  sounding
like  an  attic  groaning  under  the  weight  of  old
photo  albums.  as  a  kid  i  knew  that  there  was
a   car    burning    above   water   before   this  life,
that   i   woke   here   to   find   fire   scorched   my
hair  clean  off until i  shined like glass  –  my eyes,
two  acetylene  headlamps.   in my family we have
a    story    for    this.    my    brother   holding   me
in his hairless arms. says, dad it will be a monster

we should bury it.




god  bless all policemen  & their splintering  night  sticks splintering  &  lord
have mercy on their souls.  god bless judges in their  empty robes who send
young men off to prisons with a stain from their antiquated pens. god bless
all   the  king’s   monsters   &  all  the  kings  men.   god  bless  the  sentence
&  its  inevitable  conclusion.   god  bless  the  predators,   curators  of  small
sufferings.   god  bless  the  carpet  that  ate  one  hundred  dollars  of chris’s
cocaine.    god   bless   cocaine   &  the  colophon  of  severed  hands  it takes
to get to your nostrils.  god bless  petroleum  &  coffee  beans  &  sugar cane
&  rare  earth minerals  used to manufacture music boxes. god bless the gas
chamber  &  the gas  that makes the  shower head  sing. god bless the closet
i trapped  a  terrified  girl  in  with my  two  good  hands. god bless the night
those  good  boys   held  my face  to   a  brick   wall  &  god  bless those boys
& good god bless the strange heat that pressed back.

you cannot beg
for forgiveness
with a mouth


A Guide to Undressing Your Monsters

Coming soon from


“Sam Sax’s poems are ravenous, intimate, and brutal. God is ‘a man with a dozen bleeding mouths’ and ‘a boy drags his dead dog across the night sky’ and ‘shadows sing.’ Tongued and loved, a butthole becomes a trumpet, a second mouth. His poems reject the given. His poems seek out new encounters between flesh and world, between language and memory. Bristling with stunning images and formally astute, his poems nurture and bruise.” ~ Eduardo Corral


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About Sam Sax

Sam Sax
Sam Sax is a fellow at The Michener Center for Writers and is the two time Bay Area Unified Grand Slam Champion. He is a recipient of The Acker Award in Poetry and co-founded The New Sh!t Show, a reading series currently running in four cities across the country. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, The Journal, The Minnesota Review, Anti-, and other journals. His Chapbook, A Guide To Undressing Your Monsters, will be released this summer through Button Poetry.