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About this poet

sam sax is the author of Madness (Penguin Books, 2017), winner of the National Poetry Series, and Bury It (Wesleyan University Press, 2018), which received the 2017 James Laughlin Award.

Of his work, James Laughlin Award judge Tyehimba Jess writes, "Bury It, sam sax’s urgent, thriving excavation of desire, is lit with imagery and purpose that surprises and jolts at every turn. Exuberant, wild, tightly knotted mesmerisms of discovery inhabit each poem in this seethe of hunger and sacred toll of toil. A vitalizing and necessary book of poems that dig hard and lift luminously."

sax has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Lambda Literary, The MacDowell Colony, and Stanford University, among others. He currently serves as the poetry editor at BOAAT Press.

Standards

and again the test comes back negative for waterborne parasites
for gonorrhea of the throat and of elsewhere       for white blood cells in the stool

this isn’t always true       sometimes it’s a phone call from your lover
sometimes it’s your computer blinking on with news of what’s wrong
              with your body    this time

simple really       how he says the name of a disease
and suddenly you’re on your back           staring out the window onto a highway

suddenly a woman enters the room       to wrap a black cuff around your arm
and squeeze until you’re no longer sick

to slip a device under your tongue       check in your sweat’s accompanied
by the heat it demanded

and aren’t we all of elsewhere sometimes     the nowhere places you make yourself
inside the hallowed chambers of the hospital    and inside the man’s unsure voice

when he calls and is too scared to name the precise strain of letters
you might share now       what parasite might feed on the topsoil of your groin

what laugh track                   what tabernacle unlatched to let all that god in
what bacteria spreading its legs in your throat      as you speak

when the illness is terminal            you drink an eighth of paint thinner
while all the color drains from your face

all those little rocks in your gut turned to buses    all those buses full of strange men
each     one degree apart        all going somewhere and gone now

funny how a word can do that       garage the body

what if instead he’d simply called to say     epithalamium    or new car    or   sorry

From Bury It. Copyright © 2018 by sam sax. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Reprinted by permission.

From Bury It. Copyright © 2018 by sam sax. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Reprinted by permission.

sam sax

sam sax

sam sax is the author of Madness, winner of the National Poetry Series and forthcoming in 2017 from Penguin Books.

by this poet

poem
They cut off our hair
& there we were
Hairless.
 
A photograph
In a history i skimmed
So quick
I missed
 
We were there
Less than elsewhere
Our hair cut
So close the scalp
Gleamed
poem

i’m interested in death rituals.

maybe that’s a weird thing to say.

when i say interested i mean,

i’ve compiled a list.

on it are mourning practices

gathered across time & continents

it’s long & oddly comforting

how no one knows a damn thing

about what follows

poem
in through the eye
 
device adapted from an ice pick
 
the space between the cornea & tear duct tears
 
little incisions along the frontal lobe
 
you open the grapefruit