Published on Academy of American Poets (

closet with the letter 'd' on either end

Oh with gratitude, friends, I’m alive and thinking
about this dated metaphor. 36 and doing it again,
feeling new when I’m not. Forgive it, revise it. Oh I
felt less closeted than doored, an “or,” embellished
at the teeth on either end with an outcome. Factual,
I have decorated each door from the other side and
never just gathering the knob in my hand. Flattened
diadems collaged, I thought, cosmic radar for all our
later gazing, museum tablet on and on, behind glass,
canonic laser algebra, deathbed shooting star. Who’s
to say? That seemed like the magic a secret believer
could ask from it. Oh seems. And how it follows you
out. Come on get in I’m in this junker again and
writing “FOR SALE” in backwards letters onto the
window and adding whatever still makes noise from
inside its own made up case: dated doored gazing
deathbed window. Oh and pursing my lips wherever
your eye falls! Oh and oh and, I’m alive! Soon enough
the lethal hand of god reaches into all of us to pull out
something, a heart a rib. Come outpace me if you
can—already I have unlearned the name Adam,
unrehearsed any story of man and woman. Decorated
my body from the other side of that outcome.


Copyright © 2020 by Atom Atkinson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 1, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This is a poem I wrote using remainders of a word bank I had compiled for a much more constrained set of formal experiments. I had been adding every word I could find that began and ended with the same letter, a sensation of enclosure I still enjoyed the traces of. The closet's binaries have felt even more necessary to refashion and reconfigure since I ‘came out again’ in mid-life: inside and outside, death and life, before and after, secrecy and transparency, melancholy and joy. The endings and beginnings of sentences and words and lifespans became a zone of play for me as I wrote this poem, a zone my body asks to enter every day.”
Atom Atkinson


Atom Atkinson

Atom Atkinson is a teacher, a doctoral student at the University of Utah, the director of writing programs at Catapult, and part of the poetry collective Line Assembly. They live in Brooklyn, New York.

Date Published: 2020-01-01

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