Poetry by Michael Snediker


Philosopher’s Window

for A.G.


Massachusetts Aschenbach,

there is no

dying, just


memory/                      its pursuit.


What we

desired was/


one’s desires


which were      remembering

if only one


could just


that sea


on which we look

beyond its metaphor


or if/


there were

some figure passing                metaphor—


not literal,

not salt nor

horizon/ shore


nor salt nor navigation

nor pull

of tides


nor shore, likewise

not standing for allegory’s



We weren’t sailing,

not yet our being ferried


in imminent season. We



the sea that was

a sea/


seabirds becoming birds. Were

moored in landscapes lacking


no pathos


in feeling


tautological, even

in not knowing just


what the sea



Ferrying, May winds moving


our winter hair

as systole/ diastole


or were we doves,

olive branch

in infant beakbone/


as for

dear life.


Caught, were doves/ a memory,


was the memory,

like seabirds, of dove,


did we remember

branches, dearly caught,



without contour— the wind,


a flutter

of wings.

Soon there will be ferrying,

soon ferry-cross


what was and wasn’t



the impasse, as you say, its own


meticulous realism. Exquisite


and ethical

penury, extravagance



itself in attempting form.


Sapient, ever sapient, loving genius presides

like limbs, like


phantom limbs, is this real,


its flicker, suncome fleeting

and assured, ever graced;


do we remember this,

systole of so many beating hearts


it seemed a shore,


you who might desire less

a youth, than

memory of our youths, passing


spry cordage, shore’s point

of vanish. But now


draw in your head, alone

and too tall here,


your eyes already in the slant of drifting foam—

they do not ask


who seizes fast to them, puff and deline

of pendant arch.





Michael D Snediker is the author of Queer Optimism: Lyric Personhood and Other Felicitous Persuasions (UMinnesota, 2009). His articles on American Literature, poetics, and queer theory have appeared in journals including ELH, Modernism/modernity, and Postmodern Culture. His poetry book, Nervous Pastoral, was published by dove|tail press in 2008, and his poetry chapbook, Bourdon, is forthcoming from White Rabbit Press. He currently is working on a project titled Contingent Figure: Aesthetic Disabling and the Long American Renaissance. He teaches at Queen’s University, in Kingston, ON.

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