4 poems from Matt Schulz

Poetry

Heroes, They Say

After Naomi Shihab Nye, “The Only Democracy in the Middle East”

 

 

You are all essential workers.

Please report for duty.

We need to be served.

The economy demands it.

Always, always capital.

More money.

For us, not you.

Heroes do not ask for remuneration. 

You deserve accolades,

but not a livable wage.

You were born into the wrong family

and at the wrong time,

and in the wrong place. All of you.

We would rather not say this,

but we are suffering

and we need you

to risk your lives

for our petty conveniences.

Please be happy that you’re still employed.


 

 

Insurrection at the Capitol

Double Acrostic

 

Imagine the glow of hatred upon this fiery sea

nurtured by the narcissistic indignation of a tyrant,

set ablaze like Ohio’s crooked river once slick with taint

untold. Imagine this anger, our national blemish,

revolutionized as love! What bright phoenix might rise,

restore our allegiance to one another forged from euphoric

empathy? Can we heal this centuries-deep partisan trauma,

commence, finally, the pursuit of concerted happiness asleep

too long among purple mountains and fruited plains, semi-

intoxicated by the zealous rhetoric of Freedom? Let us trust

one another, for the first time, and together live our manifesto

now that we have witnessed the consequence of rage infernal. 


 

 

Where We Weep

 

Then there was the time 

we were building the fence

that would keep us out 

of the Westlake Country Club,

where bronzed bodies laid 

around the unbroken pool water 

on towels the color of freshly 

fallen snow, and the sun shown

luminous against sweating carafes 

of tropical liquors mixed to match 

impeccably lacquered toes. 

 

And we three, pulling at the handles 

of post-hole diggers, hauling lumps

of clay from the dense earth 

only to fill each small void 

with concrete that dried too quickly 

in the august scorch. At lunchtime, 

I listened to the songs of summer 

spilling carelessly from nearby 

loudspeakers while I sat atop the 

rising stench of defaulted mortgages 

and failed marriages shat into the

Port-o-John hidden from view 

behind the grease dumpsters.


 

 

 

Posing in Earnest

For Ellen Crowell

 

 

Oscar was no Pecksniffian punk.

He dressed his wild writing in

aristocratic drag, the grand dandy

of Decadence: implicit subtext 

of DADA and the New York Dolls.

 

 

 

Matthew Schultz teaches creative writing at Vassar College. He is the author of two novels: On Coventry and We, The Wanted. His work has recently appeared in VERSIFICATION, Juke Joint, and Sledgehammer