Sandy Solomon


A sampler of poems (© Sandy Solomon):

September 2001

our part/To murmur
name upon name...
W.B. Yeats, Easter 1916

How to speak of blood but as blood,
bone but as bone, and ash, ash,
ash for the urns of the many unfound, name
upon name murmured--daughter and son,
husband, wife, parent, friend, or none--
gone under a true September morning
sun while at home light latticed the carpets
(dust motes floating as the TV droned)
and panes seemed the slightest obstacle
to clear, call it perfect, day beyond

as helplessly we watched their murder done
(in fire and air and the long groan--earth
to earth--of gravity); all screened and screened
again as if anyone could master
their unending deaths, the thousands, blood and bone
buried, ashes risen in the wind and fallen
with the buildings’ dust, name on name to sound,
steady as rain’s light drum, multiple,
resolved--daughter and son, husband,
wife, mother, father, friend, or none:
Nural and Anna, Sakara, Sean, and Glenn,
Arianne, Irina, Susnil, Elena, and John.

            Published in The Philadelphia Inquirer
            September 9, 2002

Packs Well

"Packs well," she says, forming in ungloved hands
snowballs, lopsided, roughly made, and calls
her big-boned shepherd and my scruffy mutt
to catch each high, underhanded toss.
They make us laugh as they leap to mouth midair
those cold nothings. A chew, swallow, or spit
and, ready for the next gift, they sit to watch
her dig and palm. Sometimes she rises from her crouch
and throws long to make them run to the spot
where snow meets snow again and disappears
into itself. They circle, nosing, tonguing
winter’s traces--no smell, no taste, no sound.

Only feel and see the world, chill
and simplified now, except on the rise
where that blue round of sled the children guy
to the top, that disc on which they crowd (blur
of proximate color and sound) starts down,
turning as it glides. And falls, again, apart.

            Published in Ploughshares
            Spring 2002

Jewish Immigrant, Michigan, 1885

The boy, alone in a new landscape on the Sabath,
loafs along a dirt road when he spots,
amidst mustardy pink grasses, tall
and undulating, a glint, a maverick light,\
and stoops for its source among the stalks:   a knife,
wood handle smooth against his palm,
grain oiled by long handling, blade
tarnished but true.
                                  Though he knows, Carry nothing
on the Sabbath, he wants the way he’ll want only
a few times in his life; hurting with want
for some improbable, immanent change, something
his, as he turns the knife in his hands and turns it;
warms it until his own heat comes back.

He knows what his father would say--Throw it back--
so he flings it away, watches it twirl as it falls,
like a star arcing over the stirring grasses.
And yet he cannot leave it at that: he must run
to find it.
                When next he throws the knife, he throws it
straight, blade burying in the rutted road.
Again, he’ll pick it up, again hurl it,
seeking and finding the object of desire, following
what he’s found until it takes him home.              

Published in Pears, Lake, Sun,
University of Pittsburgh Press and
Peterloo Poets



When I went with lamp and dagger
to see if you were, as my sisters said,
a monster, and light stuttered across
your sleeping body--cheek, neck,
chest,cock, their warm topography--
I couldn’t stop staring and staring,
until the lamp tipped slightly,
and burning oil flecked your arm.
Then, night closed over me again.


Once I made my way by will;
now I make my way by feel,
by love in its curious faith--
not that the darkness will ever lift,
or the fear, but that I’ll extend my hand
and somehow find you there.


Before me, tiny seeds piled endlessly--
a roomful to be sorted before dawn,
but I wanted to find you
so I began: sesame here and wheat,
millet there and poppy, each dot
its own small promise. I didn’t see
the first ant, like a black drop
against the grain. I didn’t see the second
or the third, but soon I saw armies,
each with a seed raised high,
moving millet to millet seed, poppy
to poppy, doing my work for me.


I looked for you from house to house,
but you had vanished. I looked for you
in field and waterfall, but you were gone,
and everywhere were small gifts,
small debts of gratitude to pass on
until love was no object, but verb
and verb alone, and I gathered bit by bit
like wisps of wool curled on briars
in the thicket where the sheep graze.


So what I wanted most found me
when I sought it less, moving from effort
to rest--the kind of careful neglect
that lets a lost word descend or rise
to mind--and beside me you took shape.


How to talk about the time without you?
I barely remember it now. The way in spring
winter’s slap and pinch, the misery
of damp feet and numbed fingers fade
as the senses open and open to what is:
tickling of breeze or sun against the eyelids;
the way a rescued child knows thirst
as water, water, not as water’s absence.

Published in Chelsea , Issue 60

Pears, Lake, Sun

Pears on a sunlit ledge, flashes of lake,
how the poised world pressed itself
through the floating surface of that day,
how the manifest made its mark.

On a peeling ledge, pears leaned,
speckled, lopsided, more than yellow--
yellow squared--before an open window
through which flared a nosy, fluent breeze.

But would those pears, would the lake beyond them,
struck full of sun, would those images
have stuck so surely all these years without
the stamp of happiness to fix them there?

The proximate cause is gone. The moment stays
through the world’s facts: pears, lake, sun,
become now artifacts, seeming finer
than the passing beauty of the world itself.

Even this noon I hold them up to praise
in the face of such brilliant fluidity
now that the eaves let slip their slick icicles
and snow eases again into the ground.

            First published in Harvard Magazine
            and then in Pears, Lake, Sun,
            University of Pittsburgh Press and
            Peterloo Poets