On the Elevator I Ask a Coworker, How’s It Going?

to which he responds, It’s not Friday,
but I can’t complain
. Whoever you are,
come save us from this purgatory
between the 10th and 11th floor. Come
take our manhood in your hands
and squeeze. Commence the gnashing
of breasts, the beating of teeth. Show us
how backwards we’ve been. Stir us like those
little umbrella drinks that are so close
to our hearts this time of year
when the cold foretells acts so desperate
we can’t summon a single earnest question.

Like, who will wake us from this
fluorescent dream? Like, who will speak
the language of awakenings and resurrect
those miracles we so long ago stapled and filed? Come,
flaming tongue. Translate those birds I heard
in the early hours of this November morning,
revelatory chirps I roughly understood as,
Ain’t it beautiful, ya’ schmucks? I need to hear it
from you, that the image haunting
this poem—the one where the leaf pile transforms
into a stack of black-and-white business cards—
well, tell me it can be dropped in the backyard
of my mind like an abandoned rake, totally
not even gleaming in the moonlight.


T.J. Sandella
Copyright © 2014  

Selected by Dorianne Laux for Best New Poets 2014, T.J. Sandella is the recipient of an Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize (selected by Aimee Nezhukumatathil) and a William Matthews Poetry Prize (selected by Billy Collins). He lives and teaches in Cleveland, Ohio, where he’s a soapbox spokesman for the rustbelt’s revitalization.

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