Five Poems by Nathaniel Sverlow



standing at the corner

waiting for the light

to change


a bus turns hard right

in front of me


in the tall windows


one after the other

I see a man


in loose fitting clothes

with disheveled, greying hair

and glasses falling off

his nose


he looks familiar,

a reflection I’ve seen before

but haven’t really looked at

until now


the bus pulls away


I no longer see the man

but I feel him now

more than ever


the light changes

and we cross the street




I dreamt

of 1408


last night


the old Victorian

on the edge

of town


I lived there

five years


drank there

another five


and now

it lives

in me


the slanted stairs


the iron door


the hardwood floors



the dust and mold


the musky clothes


of dizzy dreamers



with a ten-foot portrait

of Marilyn Monroe


the back rooms

front rooms

trap doors

and passageways


the condemned

first floor

used for storage



even the avocado trees

out back

however poorly pruned


it all lives

in me

on me

like a scar



of which

to be



oh 1408!

they’ve killed you


knocking you down

building you up


and safe

with a fresh coat

of paint


they fixed you

the way they fix



but now

your spirit

has found

a home

in me

the way

so many


a home

in you


they’ll never

find you

fix you


only time


I put it in

the first time

by candlelight

Enya serenading

as a steady breeze

blew through

your open windows


do you want me?

you said




then take me


so I took you

the way I thought

you needed to be taken


I had done my research

male, female

plus, minus

cathode, anode

and sparks



is it in?

I said



you said

in that way

that told me

I needed more research


for you turned off

much faster

than I had turned on


and I finished

inside you

with the dull


of latex


and apologetic telepathy


for it had been

my first time

and possibly

my last




only time,

said Enya

something new


the first time

I went out with Lindsey

we drank at an underground dive


six or seven glasses


then she took me to a place

along the water

this boat, or ferry, or whatever

converted into a restaurant


when we arrived

an Irish folk band was playing

songs from the Old Country

and people were clapping, crying,

singing aloud


we ordered our drinks

and took them outside

to a table that faced

the moonlit river

and Lindsey sat closer to me

than ever before


a warmth filled my body


this is almost like a date, she said




so what’s your marriage like?

are you guys

open to anything new?


yeah, we’re open,

but she has to make the call,

know what I mean?


she’s so beautiful.

you’d be okay with me…


sure. yeah.

if that’s what she wanted.


she smiled, leaned in

and my heart began its own

bodhran solo

as we sat together

listening to the music

looking out over the water

the two of us

warm and trembling

at the thought

of something new

waiting to be filled


my mind

is an empty wine bottle


there is nothing


left inside

or outside

but for the aftertaste

in my brain


a slurred vision

of hips swaying



I follow your current

though I’m drowning

though I’m dead


my mind

rolls down

the empty alley

cracks against

prohibition brick


I pour



with flapper phantasms

and a faded jazz juke

with wailing

Seraphim horn


I pool

in the low light

in the dusty vanity

over well liquor


my bottles

my friends

they baptize me with Fire

they sanctify

my loneliness

with romantic ruminations

with the promise of potentiality


I wait for your return


I follow your current

your flow


my mind throbbing

my bottle as empty

as a grave


waiting to be filled

Nathaniel Sverlow is a freelance writer of poetry and prose. He currently resides in the Sacramento area with three cats, one incredibly supportive wife, and his young son. His previous publishing credits include Typehouse Literary Magazine, Black Fox Literary Magazine, The Fiction Pool, Squawk Back, and Bone Parade. He is currently finishing his first poetry compilation, The Blue Flame of My Beating Heart, set to release later this year.

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