Sam Sax


we stole fish from the ocean,
butchered, threw them back in pieces
on hooks. the two of us: me and daniel with grease in his hair
on a dock that reached out
           into the water like a man with broken arms
wood rotting in his arms. daniel
     with oiled hair,     with a throat like a lighthouse, with a mouth
like black water.  sometimes i think all he was
            was eyes. the kind that roll up into the skull
like a map    that will burn before they show you    water.

fish don’t have throats to cut, so we stabbed
           wildly. my first knife, bright as a smile,  sectioned their seizing
bodies. my smile, my knife.
                     daniel and i.   worked with no care
     for their anatomy, for the proper way to make them
open. perhaps, our forearms touched
           as guts spilled into our upturned palms
as we slid hooks through their skins
             as we threw them back in
and pulled out fish that looked just like them
               as if the ocean had pieced them back together.

that night we slept
           in his mother’s house. in the dark, i ran my fingers through
his hair, brought them to my face and tasted salt.

i wanted so badly
           to be a knife then. to take him
apart in pieces. to throw him back
                                    in the ocean.

or perhaps, i wanted to take him
           into my mouth, to feel something sharp
break inside of me,
                      to be pulled up
                                 into the screaming air,
                                               somehow whole.

Sam Sax is an MFA candidate at the Michener Center for Writers and the two-time Bay Area Unified Grand Slam Champion. He’s a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, recipient of The 2013 Acker Award for Poetry, and co-founder of the NewSh!tShow, a reading series running in four cities. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Anti-, The Boxcar Poetry Review, Rattle, The Evergreen Review, Gertrude, PANK, and other journals. His chapbook, A Guide to Undressing Your Monsters, will be released through Button Poetry in 2014.
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    Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí