David Gorin

Two poems from David Gorin’s A Pale Green Star

followed by a note on the author


This cigarette burns but is never consumed.
This cell phone makes phone calls to the dead.
Here is the number of a girl who gives protection
from fidelity. These are not loaves of bread,
but photographs of bread pasted to stones
which fill weird hungers and can be resold.
He who sits on this carpet is unable to speak.
He who looks in this mirror is already old.
Quiet friend, you look like you could use a hand
on your reset button to unclench that throat.
If no one built the button in, if no one finds one
sewn into you, like a coin in a coat’s lining,
do some of these lines: the words climb up
inside you and leap out as if you were on fire.
In a forest, in the backwoods of your suburb
crush this paper flower with your tongue,
swallow the wasp who comes: you learn
to change a person’s love for you to fame
using nothing but your tongue and time.



A Moon’s Moon

Snow is supposed to be in the cold. Ash is supposed to be in the past. Snow
is supposed to be on earth; ash, scattering in the wind. Ash is supposed to be
the snow of fire, enemy of winter’s flowers. And winter is supposed to take
place on the earth between the fall and spring. It is not supposed to take
place on the moon. But when it is winter on the moon, when you are writing
a poem in it, taking care to sweep it free of ash and snow, to cut down any
spruces that spring up in the way, disposing also of wind and junipers and
summer sounds, you will now and then look up and see a cloudy planet
floating in the sky. It’s about the size of your fist at arm’s length. Dusty
continents cartwheel into view, then oceans serenely take their place. There
must be people taking a subway. There must be mornings and situations, a
girl walking her bicycle across the street, a graduate student in prayer on the
floor of a hospital chapel, a track team running to the vanishing point and
back, a basketball game the whole neighborhood turns out to cheer, poetry
readings attended by more than sixty people—it sounds exciting! You picture
yourself in a helmet of glass, and a silver suit with copper buckles, strapping
into the seat of a cockpit aimed at the little world. With a few keystrokes, up
you go, lifted by a bright white stream of snow and ash. Of course, this does
not actually happen. You are, after all, still seated at your desk on the surface
of the moon in winter, which shows no signs of abating. And weeks pass by
like windows on a moving train.



Enchantments first appeared in A Public Space; A Moon’s a Moon first appeared in Iowa Review.

David Gorin is the author of To a Distant Country, selected by Jennifer Chang for the Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship and forthcoming in 2024. His writing received the 2023 Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America and has been supported by fellowships from MacDowell and Millay Arts. In recent years he has taught creative writing and literature at the Pratt Institute, Deep Springs College, Eastern Correctional Facility (via the Bard Prison Initiative), and Yale University. He lives in San Francisco, CA with his partner Charlotte McCurdy and their hound dog, Odin.