July 1, 2015

Three Poems By Scott Sherman: "They Used to Talk About Burning Cities," " Riding Into Sunsets," " #85"

Scott Sherman is a graduate of Ursinus College, where he got his BA in English. His most consistent love is creative writing, specifically poetry. His writing often revolves around dreams, youth, and the frontiers experienced in life. 


Fire, Burning, Inferno, IVJ July 2015

They Used to Talk About Burning Cities

My parents used to talk about a burning city at dinner
as a metaphor for my brother.
The legs of the glossed wooden table rose up in four points
and made the oaky outline of a battered cornered coffin.
The horizon was on the other side.
It would always roll back towards the sink.

I heard my mother and my father talking.
I can’t remember how sick anger made me,
or if any medicine was strong enough.
I wanted to think about their ability to forget him,
and how their stone faces pushed mercury up my thermometer,
but the grinding of teeth and a mortar and pestle drowned out my thoughts.
In children’s stories they shipped medicine to cities that were in trouble.
The medicine never made it to cities that burned in the night.

Everyone forgot about the city.
I wanted to journey through its departed streets,
to laugh at films that never stopped playing in empty theaters.
Mannequins in ruined buildings, avatars for dust and charcoal skies.
Burnt out dance studios where beautiful pink people had pirouetted.

My father would go to the sink to wash his hands after dinner.
He scrubbed his fingers and palms until the red, raw flesh looked like blood
creeping out sore skin.
Nobody else ever noticed, they didn’t care about hands or the city these days.

I wish I could visit, but the subways don’t run there anymore,
the routes were all crossed out with permanent black ink pens.
Those pens always had a crimson tint when they dried.
They took the city off the map, and said:
You need to forget him.

It was only when my sickness got worse that the hallucinations began.
I saw the city, but the buildings, parks and people were back.
Laughing, I ran and crashed into him like a pile of leaves.
He scattered on a dusty breeze,
the same way that wind takes ash when something burns to the ground.

Riding Into Sunsets

Cigarette casing censure
unloading out of your barrel throat.
I, stagnated rust
never saw the irony in keeping you on my speed-dial,
never thought to blame you for boring into my brain
and birthing bear traps.
I know how terrifying of a trap bearing me was.

I know the agony Icarus felt
next to the center of his universe,
a life spent soaking in kerosene.
If you ever want to know how it felt when you left,
focus on finding your breath,
and realize how long it took me to find mine to death
in your inferno.

Landmine carapace, you
never realized not everyone wants to go home,
as if that could have saved us from being bullet casings
seeding battlefields.
I know backwards is four words, so repeat after me:
I still love you.


Dreams about darkness, jazz lounges
chocolate air.
I've known you for fifteen years
every night is another life,
kept warm inside a drawn out note.

There is no sun like our moon,
no eclipse we don't deserve.
We've been inside the rib cage of every planet,
told them each a different story about how we met.

There is light ahead of us,
but so much alluring dark
space before it. 

~Scott Sherman

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