poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

In 1970, Matthew Rohrer was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and raised in Oklahoma. He earned a BA from the University of Michigan, where he won a Hopwood Award for poetry, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry from the University of Iowa.

Rohrer's poetry collections include Destroyer and Preserver (Wave Books, 2011); A Plate of Chicken (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009); Rise Up (Wave Books, 2007); A Green Light (Verse Press, 2004); Satellite (2001) and A Hummock in the Malookas (1995), which was selected by Mary Oliver for the 1994 National Poetry Series. With Joshua Beckman, he is co-author of Nice Hat. Thanks. and the audio CD Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty.

He lives in Brooklyn, New York and teaches at New York University.

will the red hand throw me?

Matthew Rohrer

1. Though our radiator is painted the color of the walls we know he's there. Whatever we set on top of him bursts angrily into flame. He has come to be known as Petulant. He has come to be known as Wasted Space. To be contrary, the radiator will not heat us when we need it. "If only I could find his fucking face," I say to her (who sleeps beside me), "I'd stick something in his eye. I'd stick this in his eye." And I hold out a fork. Night has grown up around us and this luminous fork is our only light. 2. By the light of our luminous fork I see the old Mexican shortwave radio weeping on the corner. All her tubes are cracked and it is late in the century. No one will be putting on a hat and boots to find tubes for her, because they can't be found. She is like the last auk in its cage with a shattered wishbone, while the naturalists were helpless and could offer to bring it something, again and again. She is like the last passenger pigeon when it realized it was the last passenger pigeon. We don't notice her anymore. "God's curse on you for ignoring me," she used to moan at night. Now she only weeps or says her prayers, but either way we can't hear her because her tubes are withered and it is late in the century. 3. The luminous fork is also worthy of investigation: Our grandparents cannot remember when the luminous fork first came into their lives. It was prefigured by the tools of Poseidon and Michael. It has appeared in my poems before. It is the last of the luminous flatware and is lonely in our drawer. Imagine a luminous fork in the company of our silverware and their steely glances. Think about this fork who cannot share his secrets with the dark knives, who will never lie with the smooth spoons. The luminous fork knows that someday when I open the drawer I won't recognize him among the tarnished forks pointing at me, just as I am told one day there will come a knock at my door that I won't answer.

From A Hummock in the Malookas, by Matthew Rohrer, published by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 1995 by Matthew Rohrer. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

From A Hummock in the Malookas, by Matthew Rohrer, published by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 1995 by Matthew Rohrer. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Matthew Rohrer

Matthew Rohrer

The author of several collections of poetry, Matthrew Rohrer's book A Hummock in the Malookas was selected for the National Poetry Series

by this poet

poem
You called, you're on the train, on Sunday,
I have just taken a shower and await
you. Clouds are slipping in off the ocean,
but the room is gently lit by the green
shirt you gave me. I have been practicing
a new way to say hello and it is fantastic.
You were so sad: goodbye. I was so sad.
All the shops were
poem
It was a basement with its own basement,
and in that basement were machines
and dusty weapons, the engines of the house;
where the floor gave way because of intense pressure
from below, and magma boiled up
through the wood-looking tiles;
where to leap to safety
broke my sister's foot;
where the animals that
poem
In another jungle the monkeys fret. 
Vibrations are tremendous. 
Terror begins. 
Mist dissipates. 
Monkeys alight in unison 
while beneath them nothing sexy happens. 
From within one mangrove a monkey flutters helplessly, 
another watches. 
Noise like refined alabaster drifts across our monkeys. 
Human intellect