Matthew Rohrer

Racist Graffiti



Racist graffiti on the metro posters


clouds, a cold wind


from no earthly direction—


but a low pollen count


a deep breath—


the beauty of the interior


is complete—


and it’s partly made of unease


and foreign cops in suits


whose faces never change


Their palace of justice


just sits there by the river


under the curdling clouds


and who cares?


Everyone’s watching


the swallows


thread the tip of a dome

A Comic Book About Shackleton



Cold wind suddenly


across the city


and crying at the end


of a comic book about Shackleton


across the sea


it is exactly the same


cigarette smoke turning corners


a woman in a white dress


no thanks


and coughing


the crossroads of the season


and an old man on a bicycle


slowly rolling by


a drill on stone


and a teacher


speaking French


to kids who don’t


on the 2nd floor


is a cloudy sound

Poem in the Manner of Morgan Parker



What do you think is wrong


with this lady on the F train


trying to sit down every time


we come to a stop she seems fine


maybe lazy no one really


wants to stand or is it spiritual


her unease I think yes whatever


is the soul’s unease is she and I


look down from a great height


like Radiohead looks down on us


something inside me wants to burst


out and preside and bang a gavel


something inside me also is made


of wine an ocean of wine


on which an even smaller part of me sails


MATTHEW ROHRER is the author of 8 books of poems, most recently SURROUNDED BY FRIENDS, published by Wave Books. He lives in Brooklyn and teaches at NYU.