Matthew Burgess


The husband interrupts
the poem I'm reading
takes my hand in his hand
places the other over
his heart, a gesture
I mimic then panic
Is he fearing a tragic
the runway we roll
God Universe Zeus
please don’t let the last
thing I eat be a plastic
wrapped strawberry jelly
candy called Tulip or
my last human exchange
be a war of words
with a brusque Greek
Easy Jet employee
over the size and number
of our personal items.
In the air over Athens
he releases my hand
goes back to his phone
while I scan the land
for illuminated ruins—
the prayer on my lips
the jelly in my belly
our personal items
stowed beneath
the seat backs
in front of us.


Hurricane Lyric

The husband lands
as winds whip up
charcoal cloudbank
over Newark, Jersey
smokestacks thicken
the soup so away
we zip across Canal
to brick tenement flat
beside the brackish
Gowanus freshly
aroil in such gusts
we quickly walk
before apocalypse
begins, duct tape
x's pepper the panes
& we hold hands
as chainlink sings
then home just off
mandatory evac
to cling in blanket
cocoon wondering
what night brings,
whether water will
rise to the sill &
we'll swim for it.


In Favor of One's Time

How did we end up
here again, where fear
the first & last thing
& home less & less
outside? I swear
every fucking day
climbing the stairs
into Sal's arms,
sanctuary above
Bowery's sirens

Making worlds is
an act of survival:
book, bivouac,
a room to read in
with red-stitched
cushions. Now
the flame is low,
voices in the library
await in their way
silent, each

witness to horrors
beyond what we
have seen & over
soup Frank O'Hara
admonishes me
keep your head up
in the wind, get your
gay ass to the Frick
& never ever give
your joy away


MB Author Photo.jpeg

Author Bio

Matthew Burgess is the author of a poetry collection, Slippers for Elsewhere, and a children's book, Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings. An Assistant Professor at Brooklyn College, Burgess also teaches poetry in New York City public schools with Teachers & Writers Collaborative. He recently edited an anthology of visual art and writing titled Dream Closet: Meditations on Childhood Space