Three Poems by Sam Ross

“sext”; “Adaptation, Tel Aviv”; and “Fee for Salt”


I believe this is
as real as anything
but safe. It’s like
Puccini: we’re so close
to the moon up here
let me tell you who
I am — and guess
about you: do you like
to fable — I mean
danke — I mean
dance? What I like
is not knowing
what we look like
to each other. Isn’t it
that way anyway?
I saw silverberries
so high atop stones
they were black
against the sky.
Limbs, finger-thin.
More evidence
never hurt a case
for handsome but
by the time you
reach me, I may be
somewhere else.
You might not
even know — like
sleeping in a tent
on a dune moving
miles through
the night. Or now
when I’m close. Are you

Adaptation, Tel Aviv

I squeeze the aloe
flesh over my knees

as your cousin scolds me
for saying ocean

when we are by a sea.
To me this is casual —

isn’t it all the same water? —
to her it isn’t.

What I could call her
is colonist since

it takes one to know.
Later, I wake when evening

still stains viridian
above the pink

and lemon neighborhood
to the schhh

of your grandfather’s
slippers on tile, which I hear

as the first soft syllable
of the name

we share. Six years
now you and I don’t speak.

If I was not in love
there are secrets

a self keeps safe —
if I was you were right

to forget me.

Fee for Salt

He cuts a piece of meat
From beneath my tongue.
A memory, he says.
Let your father pay the taxi.

Isn't It Romantic

“how he bends the wrist almost until it snaps”