This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features three poems by Soren Stockman.




My lust comes home. I wait for her
in a time for private imaginations.
Five years she’s been gone. I missed
the ordinary time we’d spend together.
Girls I cared nothing about lay down,
and down, and loved, as a crow constructs
a tool from another tool, and finds its food.
My lust comes home. Two skeletons
that cannot possibly speak, and don’t,
do not, as I comfort her. Sit her down
in my living room, her quiet with her.
Grip her body, uncover her sheen outside
of time. The silver buttons on her dress 
mellifluous. My fingers in her mouth.  


Afternoon in Wyoming

Deer have begun to cross the fields,
which means it is the first of three
times they will graze today. If I

open the door, they will turn toward me,
perfect in stillness. If I move after that,
they will dance away, their white tails . . . 

I watch them through my window, and try
to slow down time. Deer know where to sleep,
where it’s best to drink from the stream. “Have you

ever met a beautiful man who didn’t want
to be beautiful?” I ask them. “Wouldn’t that be virtuous?” 
A doe, her fawn trailing her, answers,

“That would be stupid. Who would he be to deny
the formative godhead? What is his self-loathing
worth to him?” She sighs, and the day passes.

Lint pirouettes across my eyeballs.
“Yes, but it’s dangerous.” The doe
looks away, catching a scent, then back at me.

“It’s only dangerous if you’re a fool. I can’t believe
you’re writing about this. You are not beautiful,
so you don’t have to worry, okay?”

“I have yet to meet him anyways,” I say.
The deer shake their heads, and disappear.



Tell me why the deer have black eyes
that glow red in the dark, and why I wonder
whether they are the fallen angels. 
Why the wild turkeys are so petty and stupid,
pecking at each other all the time.
There’s a doe that follows
her fawns across the road, and a turkey
king that puffs himself up to scare away
the other turkey kings while his harem roosts
nearby. These creatures find in the same grass
something they like, something they depend on.
I wake to pain in my ears crackling,
blood on my pillowcase, and fill
my hatred bowl with desperation,
as we do, trying to get it out of us
in the most acceptable way. I hear
the doctor ask my parents if they think
I’m an alcoholic, a memory I rely on
to hurt me further whenever I latch
onto a different pain, a separate pain.


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