Published on Academy of American Poets (


I am better when I am dead
or when I am

Having finally entered
the carboned pistons
of your machinery.

You, as a boy,
racing through
the warm excess
of night’s soft decline.

When I rise
I kerosene 
my fingers

place my hands flat
on its weeping

The music is smashed
Wurlitzer, trashed and drug
up from a landfill
in Tazewell.

Earth mixed with quell
and the bright peal
of a mangled glockenspiel.

In the winter hills
of summer, a sick
foal in the barn,

and an old farmhouse
with all its clocks
pulled out.

Its cold room
filling miraculously
with the slow sediment
of forget.


Copyright © 2019 by Cynthia Cruz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 29, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The poem, ‘Riding,’ is from the manuscript I am currently completing. It occurred to me that my work had veered away from my origins: the place where I come from, the objects and landscape of that place (working class, rural), and all that make me who I am. In this manuscript, currently titled Back to the Woods, I am returning to that place, whether that be a real or imagined rendition of it. In this way, the poems in this collection, Riding included, are a return, in a sense, to my first two collections, Ruin and The Glimmering Room, but a return after many years. A return to my origins but a return with the vast sorrow of having turned my back on my origins. At the same time, this return back is a kind of triumphant homecoming.”
Cynthia Cruz


Cynthia Cruz

Cynthia Cruz is the author of How the End Begins (Four Way Books, 2016) and Wunderkammer (Four Way Books, 2014).

Date Published: 2019-07-29

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