November 10-16, 2014: Emily Strauss and Tony Magistrale

Emily Strauss and Tony Magistrale

Send us your poetry for POET OF THE WEEK consideration. Click here for submission guidelines.

Emily Strauss

Bio (auto)

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry. Nearly 200 of her poems appear in over 100 online venues and in anthologies. The natural world is generally her framework; she often focuses on the tension between nature and humanity, using concrete images to illuminate the loss of meaning between them. She is a semi-retired teacher living in Sunnyvale, California.

The following work is Copyright © 2014, and owned by Emily Strauss and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Closing the House

I closed up your house tight—
I won’t return for awhile
checked the screens and shades
noticed the musty smell already
collecting in the half-light
old bedspreads covering the bulky
stuffed chairs, checked the table
for food scraps.

I should step out in reverse, leave
a light on, the carpets with worn
holes from too many years of feet
the red and black pattern almost

Can I leave it so dirty, unfinished?
But it’s not my place, not my lamp
I’m only helping you
I will bolt and seal the door
peer through floating dust
step out
into nothing.


Tony Magistrale

Bio (auto)

Tony Magistrale (Burlington, Vermont) is Professor of English at the University of Vermont. He is the author of three books of poetry: What She Says About Love (Bordighera Press 2008), The Last Soldiers of Love (Literary Laundry 2012), and the most recently published Entanglements (Fomite 2013).

The following work is Copyright © 2014, and owned by Tony Magistrale and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Westchester Pastoral

The bright true-colored suburbs of white
middle-aged marrieds residing in expansive houses
where a light is always lit,
their children off at boarding school or
under the vigilant eye of the Swedish au pair. 
Such duplicitous comfort in those first paragraphs
as they linger on corners of gauzy summer twilights—
always a weekend, women in floral party dresses
and high heels, Sunday poolside hangovers, sprinklers clicking
a fine mist syncopation across a republic of green,
the thick scent of barbequed flesh
drifting from some backyard a block away.

Westchester pastoral,
an envelope where a sheaf of American time
folds neatly inside, like old love letters secreted in an attic.
A housewife, not a little drunk, distracted
by her own reflection in a hallway mirror,
discerns a college girl ghost with long blond hair
and muses every day brings another little funeral.
Her husband bears the weight of his masculinity
like a second mortgage; at night he lifts off their bed
remembering the distant conquests of women
whose faces are now impossible for him to detail.

On a street named Shady Hill Lane,
among the tangled roots of broken promises
in the troubled undergrowth,
a little man wearing his hair cropped short
impeccably dressed in bow tie and suit coat
points to some roses in his neighbor’s front yard
and notes the pedals dropping off
one by one.)


What We Learn from Playing Sports

On Saturdays
after our football team
reached the collective realization
deep into the fourth quarter
that the competitive part
of the afternoon was now over
and the ride on the bus back to school
would be utterly silent
except for Coach Timer’s
spectacular displays of sportsmanship
in sporadic rants about the dishonor
of defeat which supported his conviction
the only thing better than winning
was a good bowel movement,
the reasons I continued to lean
into his half-hearted huddles
instead of lighting out
into what remained of soft Pennsylvania
October afternoons just beginning to chill,
was the dim premonition
someday, somewhere
I might want to write about this,
and the fact that
that bus was my only way home.



The last year that he lived
I told my father I wished to take him on a trip

Anywhere in the world he wanted to go,
One last family vacation reduced

To the two of us.  And of all the places—
He picked Vegas.  Perhaps the city

Reminded him of better days
When he was young and cancer-free;

I think he longed for one more chance
To roll the dice mindlessly,

Put a stack of chips on six or eight,
Lose himself in the math required to hit

Twenty one.  Maybe he just wanted to see again
A pretty girl dressed as a chandelier.

The lights and sounds of Vegas
Were supposed to provide a distraction,

But each night he was asleep by 7 p.m.
Leaving me to wander up and down

The concrete length of The Strip
Searching for something not for sale.

Subscribe to our weekly Newsletter: