from The Mourners Forget What Funeral They Were At

by: Matt McBride

These poems by Matt McBride live in the odd space between somber resignation and engaged wonder, particularly concerning the topic of death. They bewitch us with vividly surreal images and a quiet, almost ghostly music. Witness: “The night sky cluttered with astronauts.//  Eventually, you exhaust/ a certain type of courage.”


I practiced things to say
in hotel rooms.

The light bulbs
filled with milk.

I slept listing
for the birdstuff
inside the children’s laughter.

I was dying
beyond my means.


I walked through fields of silver trash,
my skeleton hands
in my pockets.

Alarms spilled from
one car to the next.

Getting drunk was good
for about 10% happier.

The night sky cluttered with astronauts.

Eventually, you exhaust
a certain type of courage.


My fingers
took ovals of color
off everything I touched.

My shadow
made a swishing sound.

I named the sound “cello.”

One night
someone went and knifed up
all the awnings.

I missed the woman
who used to be my wife.


Swaddled babies floated
like soft pills
two feet off the ground.

I couldn’t find the piano
so I faked it.

I tried to count all the things.

The figures appeared

Underneath poorly-drawn trees
the mourners forgot
what funeral they were at.

Yawning open,
hydrants flooded the streets
with salt.

Night was an enormous glove
whose individual fingers
we slept in.

Our search resulted
in no images.

Passengers drew straws
to see who would try
to land the plane.


Matt McBride’s work has previously appeared or is forthcoming from Cream City Review, Diagram, FENCE, Mississippi Review, Ninth Letter, PANK, and Typo amongst others. My most recent chapbook, Cities Lit by the Light Caught in Photographs, was published by H_NGM_N books in 2012. Currently, he is a lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of Iowa.

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