Sarah Galvin

The Room of Disembodied Excitement



No one wants to know about your

publications or your missing fingers or your

Dodge Charger. They have been waiting

all night, perhaps all their lives,

to tell you why their sister is a bitch.

No one wants to hear the nervous catalogue

of anecdotes that mean “I like you,”

they would like to know if

the beers in the kitchen are free.

Their sister just sent them another

text subtly mocking their apartment.

Do you really like this person

or does it just comfort you

to sleep next to someone?

You once thought sleeping near your parents,

even if the closest you could get

was the bedroom floor,

would ensure they lived through the night.

You remember Tom of Finland said,

“If I don’t have an erection

when I’m visiting a museum,

I know it’s no good,”

and you love the idea

of a room of disembodied excitement.

You take out a sharpie and draw a perfect ass

on the face of the person you’re talking with.

The lines extend to the edges

of their face, and onto the wall, and into

the air. They spread farther and farther

until you can’t see the ends anymore.

A Dead Person on the Bow of a Boat



We drink purple cocktails with white foam on their surfaces that are nicer than what we normally

drink, you in your shirt with stripes that match your sweater and me in my belt that matches

my shoes, I tell you how I like to break into abandoned houses and you tell me how you like

to chloroform people for fun, you tell me about being a law student and I tell you about doing

PR for an appliance company, and I lie in bed, maybe for years, wondering how you fall asleep

so quickly, and feeling like the kind of state-funded sculpture made of people after they die,

designed to appeal to everyone, like a bronze person standing on the bow of a boat, and then one

day on a crowded beach I realize why you sleep so easily is not the question, but what keeps me

awake, which is the absence of this woman lying on a towel, casually squeezing her own ass.

Things That Aren’t Real



Sometimes I think you’re inventing drugs in order to list more addictions. You need to stop

insisting on the existence of things that aren’t real. The pathologically high value you place on

my concern makes me feel like a grandmother, and not just your grandmother, but everyone’s

grandmother. Exhausted by the constant rocking chair-sitting, storytelling, and baking of

cookies, my depth perception is affected to the point where I try to grab objects in the distance

because I think they are tiny. Just admit you’re addicted to dog tranquilizers like everyone else.

From Under the Ground



She said she gave you a kite string

because nothing ever lasts.

As you bury it in the park

I worry I’ll say something that stupid myself.


I once gave a woman a jar of dirt

from a hill that was in my dreams,

and told her she was the seam

between dreams and reality. Was that worse?


I gave another a toilet chain

from an abandoned house that I kept

to remind myself I’m brave, and told her

I didn’t have to be brave with her.


Stainless steel and rocks,

I would have stayed with them forever.

I met a guy who’s afraid of carbon fiber bicycles,

because they’ll outlast him.


Did a similar fear

make those women leave?


When you’re on top of me,

I think of Jean Genet being fucked

by a convict, how the man “unfurled

on him like a leaden branch”


though you’d be a living branch, maybe a pear tree,

with those little white flowers

whose petals stick to the dark twigs when it rains.


A craftsman of contexts for the beauty


of toilet chains and dirt, I’m silent

in the presence of beauty

that requires no context, and giddy


as anyone who has just learned

why people give each other flowers.


SARAH GALVIN is the author of The Stranger’s “Midnight Haiku” series, which are neither haiku nor at midnight. She has a blog called The Pedestretarian, where she reviews food found on the street. The thing she loves most about reviewing discarded food is receiving text messages that say things like “I hear the bus stop on 3rd and Union is covered with ham.” Sarah is a poetry MFA student at University of Washington, and her poems can be found in iO, New Ohio Review, Pageboy, Dark Sky, and Ooligan press’s Alive at the Center anthology.