The New San Francisco Poetry Underground:
Sam Sax


Sam Sax

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 125 in December, 2010.


if sleep is the cousin of death           
then death must be 
my schizophrenic cousin daniel
who reads talmud 
claims our family are direct descendants of god

and sleep
drinks alone in bathrooms
claims his brain cells are not destroyed
they are merely expanded

this is how we get through the night:
kiss the backhand of a bottle of bourbon
drink aerosol spit shine through a loaded pen
eat a fistful of vicodine for breakfast
fist fuck a church door.s wood mouth

this is how we. this is how we.
this is how we get through the night

awoke on a pillow of my own vomit
recall how stripped concrete sheets
had made a bed for me in the mansion
of my madness. my mouth a bloody
grin after dining on a banquet of pavement.

watch how men
dressed in burial suits
walk slow in morning
toward a punch clock
feeding days to their paychecks

children back home with mouths
hungry as fresh graves

from broken condom
to broken promise

that morning
daylight straight razored my gay nightlife
and i wished i hadn.t told bedtime to go fuck herself
that walk home i thanked my lucky now hidden stars
that i had no one to come back to

this is how we get through the night
after i left my last lover broken in an adjacent bedroom
when we learned that our words would
not help us remember how to speak to each other again
he asked me /how i can sleep at night/
naked as countless sheep i told him:
nightly baptisms in a bottles of bourbon
writing until my knuckle bleeds into the table
an alarm clock shaped like a fistful of pills
and cursing god as often as i remember he does not exist 

always fearful of waking a sleeping giant
i have learned to fall in love like i fall asleep
as fucked up as possible

this is how we. this is how we
this is how we…
if daniel was right
and my family are actually direct descendants of god
and if children learn to smile from their fathers
than god must have a grin like a cemetery
with tombstone teeth
pointing forward always forward
to that second cousin of sleep

but i learned how to cheat the night from my mother
cups of hot black morning resting like an infant in her palm
i wonder if i envied their closeness
if i learned to nurture my insomnia like a child
let it grow inside of me until
i birthed nightmares onto my bed sheets

in my house we only found rest at the end
of a deadened nerve ending
after emptying these coffee can heads
and letting us fill again with stripped wool
and feathers

when my mother found me
a carcass lying on the carpet next to the bed like a bleeding lamb
with everything possible stripped down to empty
she asked me if i ever felt like my cousin daniel
and i told her through gritted gravestone teeth

we are all just searching for ways to finally
rest in peace.