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Stan Sanvel Rubin

Rubin (grayscale) copyStan Sanvel Rubin’s work has appeared in such journals as The Georgia Review, Iowa Review, Poetry Northwest, Kenyon Review, One, Ascent and others. His poems are forthcoming in Gravel, Shanghai Poetry Review and Agni. His fourth full collection, There. Here. was published by Lost Horse Press in 2013. His third, Hidden Sequel, won the Barrow Street Poetry Book Prize. He lives on the northern Olympic Peninsula of Washington state.

Lost Muse

Skyward and earthward are the same
when you don’t know
which direction you are falling,

only that you must fall
where the gravity of blood
pulls you,

sparks fly from your tongue
and sparks fill your eyes,
and you know only

that you must continue
to fall, hoping
someone eventually will hold you,

spirit-god, she-hawk,
little flake of nothing
burning to this

innocence, daughter
who falls from every mother
wherever you are found.


Like a run of emphatic keys
on a piano, love comes
in quick strokes,

a pang, then passion
like a virus
holds you

while unseen hands
play across your nerves
with mastery

until you are caught,
wanting never to lose
what you must lose.

This is the way love’s joy
starts like a fuse.
Ends like a fuse.


All day I suck Altoids from a tin.
Peppermint burns against my tongue
and palate like a soft slow flame.
The trick is to dissolve them one by one
into the softness of the mouth,
those hidden folds that offer pleasure or pain.
Keep your lips pursed as if for a kiss
you don’t want to stop and don’t have to return.
I’m listening to Dvorak’s Eighth
and turn to look across the bay
while the opening familiar strings
lull me into some semblance of a sleep
that rouses quickly to a kind of dance,
timpani of memory, whisper of winds
that perpetually catch me unaware,
I’m with her again, she’s dying again,
the foghorn in the distance calls me to look up
from writing this poem and look out
to where flowing waters collect
uncounted hidden streams, waves
racing across the surface
like horns gathering for a cadenza
which I do not know how to listen for,
the way I did not know how to love
and didn’t know there is a ship
and that we all are on it remorselessly.

Two-and-a-Half Years

If I had half the magic
I thought I was born with,
I would never have let you die.

I would have screamed hatred
at the cells we both hated
until nothing was left of them

and everything could go back
to the way it was before
the sky filled with your absence.

If I had the courage
to say what I grieve for,
I would say I understand grief

the way a prisoner
understands good bread,
the kind he will never taste

until taste itself doesn’t matter.
I would know where
the light goes and the dark goes

inside our bodies.
I would know why
grief brings no wisdom

but we have it anyway.
I would know who is writing this.
At least, that.
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