Published on Academy of American Poets (

San Sebastian

              Still singing in my cell
of succulents, staked by a man
who fled. Nothing personal.
How often I get that wrong…
I move on—

              some man
is always fleeing, and that
is never personal. The longer
I go the fewer notes I need. 
My torso a sort of hotel.
Martyrdom bores me.
My hook-ups a new flamenco—

              will I be saved?
The peninsula tilts its goblets.
I am alone.  
Wasn’t I always?
Swifts fleck the dry grass. 
By my absence you’ll know me.


Copyright © 2016 by Spencer Reece. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 29, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is in the voice of a person and a place. San Sebastian is the prettiest town in northern Spain, known for its film festival and lovely beach coves. Sebastian is also a common saint, associated with gay suffering, covered in arrows like a voodoo doll, and in nearly every church in Spain.”
—Spencer Reece


Spencer Reece

Spencer Reece is the author of The Road to Emmaus (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014). 

Date Published: 2016-12-29

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