Michael Klein, “What is it like for you”

Today, a poem from Michael Klein’s then, we were still living (GenPop Books), a finalist for this year’s Lambda Literary Award for Gay Male Poetry.

What is it like for you

You are writing a letter to someone
who doesn’t have a lot of time left.  The sun hurts
because it is old and bitter (you said to whoever brought the mail).
The radio is shooting out static in the form of what sounds like policemen.
They are saying drop your gun, we will form a community around you.
You have no gun     so you keep writing.  It has been a long time.
The government changes.  Fires keep burning.  You have a dog now.  Books.
The letters you write to the dying don’t make it seem like such a long time
but it is     because more have died.
The letters make it seem like words     not minutes     are passing between you and
the dying.  You don’t feel time in the next next next sense.
You feel it again and again and again.
The letters are loaded with light     but useless.  The dying
finish dying.  That was a long time ago and the world still empties     fills up
like a tube of blood     like it was when it started for you
getting a message out to someone
the old sun     no gun     writing     not writing     this     this     this.


MICHAEL KLEIN is a Lambda Literary Award winning poet. He has taught writing at Sarah Lawrence College, City College of New York, Binghamton University, and is currently a faculty member in the MFA Program at Goddard College. His new book of poems is “then, we were still living,” and he is working on a new book of poems tentatively titled “What I’m Going to Do Is.”

“What is it like for you” from THEN, WE WERE STILL LIVING by Michael Klein. Copyright © 2010 by Michael Klein. Used by permission of GenPop Books. All rights reserved.