poem index

About this poet

Born in International Falls, Minnesota, Matt Rasmussen holds degrees from Gustavus Adolphus College and Emerson College.

His poetry collection, Black Aperture, was selected by Jane Hirshfield as the winner of the 2012 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets and was published by Louisiana State University Press in 2013.

Rasmussen is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Bush Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, The Corporation of Yaddo, the Loft Literary Center, the Jerome Foundation, Intermedia Arts, the Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota, and the McKnight Foundation.

Rasmussen is also the author of a chapbook, Fingergun (Kitchen Press, 2006), and is the co-founder of the independent poetry press Birds, LLC. He teaches literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College and lives in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

Chekhov's Gun

Matt Rasmussen
Nothing ever absolutely has to happen. The gun 
doesn't have to be fired. When our hero sits 

on the edge of his bed contemplating the pistol 
on his nightstand, you have to believe he might 

not use it. Then the theatre is sunk in blackness.
The audience is a log waiting to be split open. The faint 

scuff of feet. Objects are picked up, shuffled away. 
Other things are put down. Based on the hushed sounds 

you guess: a bed, some walls, a dresser. You feel 
everything shift. You sense yourself being picked up, 

set down. A cone of light cracks overhead. The audience's 
eyes flicker toward you like droplets of water.

Copyright © 2012 by Matt Rasmussen. Used with permission of the author.

Matt Rasmussen

Matt Rasmussen

His poetry collection, Black Aperture, was selected by Jane Hirshfield as the winner of the 2012 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets

by this poet

poem

X.

My foreshadow stretches
out in front of me.

We stand on the soles
of each other's feet.

I am a field
and there's a man

standing in the middle
of me saying,

God is the sky pinning
me to my body.

I am a man
and there is a field 

under me saying, 
A dead man makes

love to the earth
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poem

X.

Kafka said, A book
must be an axe

for the frozen sea 
inside us, which sounds 

great, but what good 
is an axe against 

a frozen sea?
Perhaps this is why

he said, while dying,
Destroy everything.

There is little comfort
in knowing there

are worse undertakings
than killing yourself