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Christopher Salerno


Christopher Salerno was born on June 13, 1975, in Somerville, New Jersey. He received an MA from East Carolina University and an MFA from Bennington College.

Salerno is the author of Sun & Urn (University of Georgia Press, 2017), winner of the Georgia Poetry Prize; ATM (Georgetown Review Press, 2014), winner of the Georgetown Review Poetry Prize; Minimum Heroic (Mississippi Review Press, 2010), winner of the Mississippi Review Poetry Prize; and Whirligig (Spuyten Duyvil, 2006).

In the judge’s citation for the Georgetown Review Poetry Prize, D. A. Powell writes, “Salerno rifles through our empty wallets to show how much we’re missing. These poems are mystical transactions of body and soul, as dark as Faust and as illuminating.”

Salerno has also received a fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. He currently serves as an editor at Saturnalia Books and teaches at William Paterson University. He lives in Caldwell, New Jersey.


Sun & Urn (University of Georgia Press, 2017)
ATM (Georgetown Review Press, 2014)
Minimum Heroic (Mississippi Review Press, 2010)
Whirligig (Spuyten Duyvil, 2006).

By This Poet


If You Must Hide Yourself From Love

It is important to face the rear of the train
as it leaves the republic. Not that all
departing is yearning. First love is
a factory. We sleep in a bed that had once
been a tree. Nothing is forgot.
Yet facts, over time, lose their charm,
warned a dying Plato. You have to isolate
the lies you love. Are we any less
photorealistic? I spot in someone's Face-
book sonogram a tiny dictum
full of syllogisms. One says: all kisses come
down to a hole in the skull,
toothpaste and gin; therefore your eyes
are bull, your mouth is a goal.

Is It Better Where You Are?

The bakery’s graffiti either spells HOPE
or NOPE. But hope and results
are different, said Fanny Brawne to her Keats
voiding his unreasonable lung.
Getting off the medicine
completely means light again
blinking to light. Device returned
to its factory settings. The complete black
of before the meteor shower
above the bakery. If you lose the smell
of leather, lemon, or rose,
studies show you will fail at being,
like Keats. I keep watching the same meteor
shower videos on YouTube
where awe is always a question of scale.
Night can be moths or weather, pulled in the dark.
The bakery, now, is beginning to close.
My arrhythmic heart
aches for the kind of dramatic arc
one can’t shop for. Or else to lease
what’s real for a while—
is this the good kind of consumption?
I wonder over the weight
of meaning. The difference between
hull and seed. The sugary
donut and its graceful hole. The greasy
bags that everyone leaves
in the alley leading to my door.
These scraps I work at like a crow.


It’s summer here so soda pop and blue
jeans in the trees. I am peeling
my sunburn on a bus bound for Saratoga
Springs where I will lob my father’s
ashes on the line where the racehorses
finish one at a time, and as they do,
the mist of a million particles
of ash in the air, all likeness will disappear
between us. I had built a boundary
out of skin where I sat quietly
until blood was the only moving
thing on a map of where we are.
On the dirt track, horses fill
their lungs in the sun and urge on.
When a losing horse dips
its head to greet me, his black whiskers
tickle the flesh of my neck. Why
do all hearted creatures stink?
I am asked by my brother’s
youngest child, Is horse your favorite
or least favorite mammal?
I say
don’t beg the Lord if the sky is
a gray roof beneath which
you have waited all day to see
gallop something graceful, swift.