Stephen Massimilla/ Poetry 6.2 / Fall, 2018





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.



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, and several others. Previous books and awards include the poetry collections The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat (an SFASU Press Prize selection); Forty Floors from Yesterday (the Bordighera/CUNY Prize winner); the sonnet sequence Later on Aiaia (Grolier Prize winner); a Van Rensselaer Award, selected by Kenneth Koch; and translations of books by Neruda and others. His work has appeared recently in hundreds of publications ranging from Agni to Colorado Review to Denver Quarterly to Poetry Daily. Massimilla holds an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. from Columbia University and teaches at Columbia University and The New School. (For more info: and


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