Features, Poems

Matthew Schnirman: “Zac calls this moment the ‘so'”

I should start with how I met him. I had seen him around several times before I wrote this poem. I would go to this bar, sometimes, and he’d be there, standing under this swarm of discotheque lights, and he liked to get drunk by the end of the evening, but I don’t judge. Anyway, there were these blots of wallpaper that if you followed along the base of the stairwell, you’d get to this red door that led out back, and you had to go through this red door if you wanted to smoke, which I did, then, sometimes. So, you really had to push down on this handle, like just punch it to get it open. I did just that, and when the door shut, there he was, standing on the other side, and I was a little embarrassed of my debut. He introduced himself, Hey, I’m Zac, and the way he said his name was both infinite and staccato, like a feeling of love and death at the same time, and he had these real blue eyes that got Blue Moon stuck in my head, you know, that song, you saw me standing alone, without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own. So we got to talking and I told him this story about this guy I knew who claimed he never listened to music, and how I wasn’t one of those people who believed there was music everywhere if you just listened, and Zac said he believed more in the movies anyway, and I agreed. And we just talked at the bottom of this well of moonlight until he finished his cigarette and went back inside. The night carried on, and everyone was enjoying themselves and everything seemed to escape itself, and when I turned around to go back inside, it was a very different door.


Zac calls this moment the ‘so’

All bets were lost.
The heart wants,

and then doesn’t (oh,
and too well)—the head-

first, lastly. A life goes
big, breaking the bed-

frame, and precludes
love’s barge from spoiling.

Above waters bubbling
beneath callipygian peaks!—

the male soul dips,
just the tip, into its alpine-

fresh meadow, while clarity
washes up shitty

at garden parties. Charming,
like men who eat acid

and rail at the first to die
like James Dean.

Rewind back. Suddenly
after midnight, February,

and It’s fucking freezing.
Zac is so fucking drunk.

A public spectacle. How
I imagine the moon

through this cab
window, almost opaque

from frost. A moon who
patiently awaited astronauts

for centuries: cosmic
jaguar cubs lapping

up an opal bowl
of not-nothing.

Getting people to believe
in the surface: that little

knife of space
carved out through the leaves.

10956044_10105686562460093_9090499602430593273_nMatthew Shnirman received his MFA from the University of Arizona. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in Phantom, CutBank, Whiskey Island, and elsewhere. He lives in Seattle where he is a 2015 Jack Straw Writer, and was a former fellow at the Richard Hugo House.

Additional poems by Matthew Schnirman can be found in the Summer & Fall 2015 issue of Poetry Northwest.

top photo credit: tanakawho (license)