May 27 – June 2: Hal Sirowitz and Taylor Graham

Hal Sirowitz and Taylor Graham

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

Hal Sirowitz

Bio (auto)

Hal Sirowitz lives in Philadelphia and teaches poetry workshops at the local bookstore, Big Blue Marble. He’s the co-winner of the NoirCon 2012 Poetry Contest, judged by Robert Polito. He’s the author of a new collection of poetry, "Stray Cat Blues" (Backwaters press, Nebraska), available on His first book, "Mother Said"(Crown, 1996) was translated into nine languages. His poems were read by Garrison Keillor on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac and he was interviewed by the Writer’s Almanac Bookshelf. He was awarded a NEA Fellowship in Poetry and a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry. He served as the former Poet Laureate of Queens, New York for three years, commencing in the year 2000.

The following work is Copyright © 2013, and owned by Hal Sirowitz and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Fingerprints on Her Blouse

She gave me a piece
of chocolate. Despite
the advertising jingo
the chocolate melted
in my hand before I
could get it into my mouth.
I got chocolate on her blouse.
It was not the best way to start
a date – an afternoon spent
in the Laundromat. I got dizzy
watching her panties go around
in circles. It seemed like they
would never stop. The dryer
wasn’t as exciting. Her black
slacks kept blocking the view.

The Perfect Shrimp

She offered me some shrimp
and told me not to eat the shell.
She must not have had an high
opinion of my intelligence. She
probably was just nervous. If my
calculations were right, this would
be the night we would finally sleep
together. But she had no intention
of gulping down her shrimps,
commenting on how she had left them
in boiling water the right amount of time.
She kept admiring their texture. I had
to admit they were good but not good
enough to delay what I was planning
to do. I noticed she held the shrimps
like cigarettes. I started eating her shrimps
to cut to the chase. She called me a pig.
The night was ruined. So were the shrimps.
They wouldn’t settle in my stomach
but floated around my digestive tracts.


Taylor Graham

Bio (auto)

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler living in Placerville, CA. She’s included in the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library, 2012) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004). Her book The Downstairs Dance Floor was awarded the Robert Philips Poetry Chapbook Prize, and she was a finalist in Poets & Writers’ California Writers Exchange. Her current project is What the Wind Says, a collection of poems from her 40 years of living and working with dogs.

The following work is Copyright © 2013, and owned by Taylor Graham and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Five-Star Dogs
(search-and-rescue teams abroad)

After earthquake –
nice rooms on the 11th floor for handlers;
underground garage for the dogs.
We said, “No,
thanks, we’ll sleep down there too.”
The hotel relented.

After the first day of searching –
dogs depressed, only finding dead – Sardy
cuddled against me all night for comfort.

After the second day of searching
we found, on our fresh-made beds, two
dog treats, a gift from the maid.

On the fourth day, the hotel manager
asked if he might bring
his family to meet the hero dogs.
But the real proof
was when traffic on the frantic Paseo
stopped to let our dogs cross.

Subscribe to our weekly Newsletter: