Tim Suermondt


                               We are not so badly off, if we can
                               Admire Dutch painting.
                                                             —Czeslaw Milosz

I want that house of quietude.
I want the fruit and bread on the table.
I want the young woman who takes care
of it all and never loses her beauty.

We’ll get married, live for art and each other.
Morning sunlight in winter poking
us in bed as we sleep late, vigorously.
How, how could she ever say no to that?


The man is defeated, as is usually the case

but you’d never know it from the staunchness

of his demeanor—like a poet whose slippery

metaphors convince just about everyone

he’s close to the doorstep of heaven or some

such sterling approximation.

The man dresses and leaves for the day

and the hole in his heart does diminish

in the clutter of routine.

You stand a good chance of running into him

when the sky is dreary and the streets

seem lonelier than they’ve been for some time.

You might catch him whistling a sappy song

or better yet doing a buck-and-wing,

dancing badly into the future he’s sure

has to be stupendous.


In my dream I’m being pulled away
like everyone, everything in the world—
the movement of people, animals, plants,
and objects gigantic and small on a scale

unparalleled in our long and short history.
A mansion with its rooms still lit passes
by me on the right, an aircraft carrier, deck
cleansed of planes and looking forlorn, passes

on the left, women holding down their skirts
above me, men below me blowing them kisses.
There never was a big day, a big game, a big
brother or big daddy like this, and in the night

of the cool galaxies I punch the stars, confident
the world will end with a bang, nobly, after all.


I have a handful of poems
    that are as good if not better
than what they’ve written, are writing.

I’ve always wanted to admit this
    but didn’t want to upset modesty.

Yet now that I have I like even more
    their genius and their failures,
my genius and failures too.

How nice of them to be peering over
    my shoulder as I write this poem.

Tim Suermondt is the author of two full-length collections of poems: TRYING TO HELP THE ELEPHANT MAN DANCE (The Backwaters Press, 2007) and JUST BEAUTIFUL (New York Quarterly Books, 2010.) His third collection ELECTION NIGHT AND THE FIVE SATINS will be published early in 2016 by Glass Lyre Press. He has poems published and forthcoming in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, Blackbird, Bellevue Literary Review, PANK, North Dakota Quarterly, december magazine, Plume Poetry Journal and Stand Magazine (U.K.) among others. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.
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