About this poet

In 1970, Matthew Rohrer was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and raised in Oklahoma. He earned a BA from the University of Michigan, where he won a Hopwood Award for poetry, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry from the University of Iowa.

Rohrer's poetry collections include Destroyer and Preserver (Wave Books, 2011); A Plate of Chicken (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009); Rise Up (Wave Books, 2007); A Green Light (Verse Press, 2004); Satellite (2001) and A Hummock in the Malookas (1995), which was selected by Mary Oliver for the 1994 National Poetry Series. With Joshua Beckman, he is co-author of Nice Hat. Thanks. and the audio CD Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty.

He lives in Brooklyn, New York and teaches at New York University.

venus waning/apollo waxing his car

Matthew Rohrer
Then there was the night I decided that if I ignored everyone
I would transcend,

so I covered my ears with my hands,
stepped off the porch and rose like a wet crow

and the sprinklers chattered to each other over the fences.
And "How long will you be gone?" my neighbor called nervously,
my neighbor whose saw I had borrowed,
and "Come down right now!" my landlord called out,
climbing to the roof of his Cadillac to reach me
as he got smaller and smaller.

And there I was with the stars hanging above my house like live wires
and the night sky the color of stockings.

I stuck out my tongue to taste the sky
but could not taste.

I inhaled deeply
but could not smell.

I used to look to the sky for comfort
and now there was nothing, not  even a seam,
and I looked down and saw that it did not even reach the ground.

And my only company was the satellites counting their sleep
and the Sorrowful Mother swinging her empty dipper in the darkness,
the Sorrowful Mother picking her way through the stars over my roof.

And I knew I was nowhere and if I ever took my hands from my ears
     I would fall.

From A Hummock in the Malookas, by Matthew Rohrer, published by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 1995 by Matthew Rohrer. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

From A Hummock in the Malookas, by Matthew Rohrer, published by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 1995 by Matthew Rohrer. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Matthew Rohrer

Matthew Rohrer

The author of several collections of poetry, Matthrew Rohrer's book A Hummock in the Malookas was selected for the National Poetry Series

by this poet

poem
I never believed in bioluminescence before. 
Here in Moravia where all daylight hides 
the only illumination is whiskey. 
Names seem unimportant. 
Large are the memories growing elsewhere 
beneath themselves. 
Do hemlocks burn when stared at? 
Darkness always retains something shapely. 
Those leaves engender me
poem

I believe there is something else

entirely going on but no single
person can ever know it,
so we fall in love.

It could also be true that what we use
everyday to open cans was something
much nobler, that we'll never recognize.

I believe the woman sleeping beside me
doesn't

poem
You called, you're on the train, on Sunday,
I have just taken a shower and await
you. Clouds are slipping in off the ocean,
but the room is gently lit by the green
shirt you gave me. I have been practicing
a new way to say hello and it is fantastic.
You were so sad: goodbye. I was so sad.
All the shops were