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.

will the red hand throw me?

Matthew Rohrer

1. Though our radiator is painted the color of the walls we know he's there. Whatever we set on top of him bursts angrily into flame. He has come to be known as Petulant. He has come to be known as Wasted Space. To be contrary, the radiator will not heat us when we need it. "If only I could find his fucking face," I say to her (who sleeps beside me), "I'd stick something in his eye. I'd stick this in his eye." And I hold out a fork. Night has grown up around us and this luminous fork is our only light. 2. By the light of our luminous fork I see the old Mexican shortwave radio weeping on the corner. All her tubes are cracked and it is late in the century. No one will be putting on a hat and boots to find tubes for her, because they can't be found. She is like the last auk in its cage with a shattered wishbone, while the naturalists were helpless and could offer to bring it something, again and again. She is like the last passenger pigeon when it realized it was the last passenger pigeon. We don't notice her anymore. "God's curse on you for ignoring me," she used to moan at night. Now she only weeps or says her prayers, but either way we can't hear her because her tubes are withered and it is late in the century. 3. The luminous fork is also worthy of investigation: Our grandparents cannot remember when the luminous fork first came into their lives. It was prefigured by the tools of Poseidon and Michael. It has appeared in my poems before. It is the last of the luminous flatware and is lonely in our drawer. Imagine a luminous fork in the company of our silverware and their steely glances. Think about this fork who cannot share his secrets with the dark knives, who will never lie with the smooth spoons. The luminous fork knows that someday when I open the drawer I won't recognize him among the tarnished forks pointing at me, just as I am told one day there will come a knock at my door that I won't answer.

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
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
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

In the middle garden is the secret wedding,
that hides always under the other one
and under the shiny things of the other one. Under a tree
one hand reaches through the grainy dusk toward another.
Two right hands. The ring is a weed that will surely die.

There is no one else for miles,