Tom Snarsky

Average Life


Running at you with hedge clippers

is a language you no longer know

how to act surprised at


The grammar puts dates in your mouth

& forces you to chew them

slowly (then quicker, then slower again)


I’d be willing to be distracted

by death if you’d just shut up

and stop asking me how love is


supposed to develop when no one

lamb seems any more polite

than the others, or any more likely


to wander off—


                   if there is a conversant dark-

ness creeping up in what I’ve said so far


I hope I can experience it


with you breathing

                      down my neck

                                          the whole time



Let’s trade evils:

I forget every feeling


& stumble into strange midnights

where quotation doesn’t work


the way I’m used to so I try

to quote my friends & only darkness


comes out

It forms a giant heap


in the middle of the floor

& doesn’t take questions


It does have that mysterious in-

different look that makes it kind


of attractive but un-

less you’re drunk or brave or very


different from me you

will probably just


gaze at it

keep your distance


& leave it be

Poem with Last Line by Emad Matti


Every year of my life so far I’ve looked up

young artists who died

by suicide

when they were that many years


old. I hold them

in my head for one revolution

at a time, & then I graduate

to a different decisionmaker.


It helps, I think. A balance be-

tween maudlin & honest. It keeps

perspective close at hand, here

where, at the end of our mild day,


the death angel is coming for us all

Tom Snarsky teaches mathematics at Malden High School in Malden, Massachusetts, USA.


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