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Matt Rasmussen

Born in International Falls, Minnesota, Matt Rasmussen holds degrees from Gustavus Adolphus College and Emerson College.

His poetry collection, Black Aperture, was selected by Jane Hirshfield as the winner of the 2012 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets and was published by Louisiana State University Press in 2013.

Rasmussen is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Bush Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, The Corporation of Yaddo, the Loft Literary Center, the Jerome Foundation, Intermedia Arts, the Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota, and the McKnight Foundation.

Rasmussen is also the author of a chapbook, Fingergun (Kitchen Press, 2006), and is the co-founder of the independent poetry press Birds, LLC. He teaches literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College and lives in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.

Matt Rasmussen
Photo credit: Stephanie Colgan

By This Poet

18

In Whoever's Hotel Room This Is

If it were up to me,
the bible would begin:

A man steps into a field...
I'd forgotten what was in

the background when you took 
the photo of me I wouldn't 

see until later. When I did, 
it was just a wall, and my smile 

was a mouthful of rocks.
A little after it was clicked off 

the T.V. screen's light
condensed down a drain.
 
Even when the television 
had become an aquarium 

full of black water
that last bright dot 

burned in my eye.
On the back of my photo

you wrote, This isn't you,
and you were right,

it no longer was.

Chekhov's Gun

Nothing ever absolutely has to happen. The gun 
doesn't have to be fired. When our hero sits 

on the edge of his bed contemplating the pistol 
on his nightstand, you have to believe he might 

not use it. Then the theatre is sunk in blackness.
The audience is a log waiting to be split open. The faint 

scuff of feet. Objects are picked up, shuffled away. 
Other things are put down. Based on the hushed sounds 

you guess: a bed, some walls, a dresser. You feel 
everything shift. You sense yourself being picked up, 

set down. A cone of light cracks overhead. The audience's 
eyes flicker toward you like droplets of water.

A Horse Grazes in My Shadow

             after James Wright

Startled by my breath it bolts 
to the other end of the field. 

The horizon's brow rasps 
against a green cloud

which seems both
desperate and sincere.  

Into a dead tree
a flame of bird

drives its burning beak.
And somewhere out here

I have come to terms
with my brother's suicide. 

I wish the god of this place 
would put me in its mouth 

until I dissolve, until 
the field doesn't end

and I am broken open
like a shotgun, 

swabbed clean.

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