This week in the PEN Poetry Series, PEN America features two poems by Christopher Salerno. 

Your Time Has Come

The mouth is a fright because it’s also the entertainer.
That’s how drama works.
Your voice is an organ for once.
Intention is a story within a story. A truck hauling
theater props across Connecticut.
Today I stay indoors, recite a poem in which raindrops
are pitting the snow
with impossibly quiet applause. I screen
the re-release of 12 Angry Men.
The American courthouse
was modeled after ancient baths: grayscale, sunlit pillars,
the iridescent breasts of pigeons—
a predictable brand. The fact is
personality is a luxury.
You just need to choose your confession style.

If I Know What Days Are

Plainsong, I can’t hear you
over the clatter of jackhammers
sketching a surface first thing,
morning, and buildermen acting like
something’s about to be sawed
in the narrow stone alley between
the church convent and our bordering bed
of Double Late tulips opening
now too wide to go on living. They’ll miss
the history of noise built up
into statement. The sun is the star
of their long hot day, so we doze back
until its light hits the fig trees
in four-color, the earth now out
of its lull. Disquietude, that’s a word.
Hell: day’s wide load brings
another refrain: we make less love
than we do new ways to frame it.

Once a week, the PEN Poetry Series publishes work by emerging and established writers from coast to coast. Subscribe to the PEN Poetry Series mailing list and have poems delivered to your e-mail as soon as they are published (no spam, no news, just poems).