Issue > Poetry
Sam Sax

Sam Sax

Sam Sax is a 2015 NEA Creative Writing Fellow and the Editor-in-chief of Bat City Review. He’s the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion and author of the chapbooks A Guide to Undressing Your Monsters (Button Poetry, 2014), sad boy / detective (Black Lawrence Press, 2015), and All the Rage (SRP, 2016). His poems are forthcoming in Boston Review, FIELD, Ploughshares, PEN Poetry Series, Poetry Magazine, and other journals.  

Politics of Elegy


Like anyone i can make a list of the dead
I can make them my dead by making the list
I can write my name then name names below it  
I can craft & obfuscate & collapse
I can publish it
I can ask 'who of us is left to tell their story?'
This land of plentitude & pens     of plateaus & platitudes & pens
This land is my land, the song says, this land is mine
How long have humans buried each other in the earth
How long have we sung into their absence
How long have we been paid for that singing
Every architect expects people to inhabit their buildings
Every poet intends their poems to outlive them
Every piece of furniture in my room is shaking its head
What's the difference between weeping alone & on camera
What's the gulf between an epitaph & an epic  
What's a eulogy but a coin rising in the throat
Eulogy from the greek means praise
Praise from the latin means price
Every public dirge is burning capital
Every shirtless picture of him i keep is a small virgil  
Every hell i've traveled through is an expensive bird in my mouth
I was paid a thousand dollars for writing a poem about a dead man who hated me
I was paid & each dollar is a ghost haunting my wallet
I was paid & i am trading his body for bags of food
I am never more dangerous than inside
The arms of a man
Who will die
Before me

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