Fall 2015, Volume 19

Poetry by Stan Sanvel Rubin


After your search found us, or
we found you, we’re pleased to say
we have inspected all the data you sent
and find you suitable for a single room.
You are not part of any group,
but possibly you will find new friends.
We have a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.
There’s a fireplace that’s always lit.
Upon arrival, we will take relevant data
you did not send but which pertains
to inner desires you tried to keep secret.
Our computer will share this information
with the other guests only if they show interest.
You will be relieved to learn there are no secrets here.
Your acceptance is now guaranteed.
Please confirm by hitting Reply.


I’m watching the willow grow in a bonnet of sunlight
but I keep my paranoia on a shelf in the garage
and I can open it at any time, or rather,
its lid can pop and foam up like
a shaken beer or box of borax into which
something has leaked, or maybe has been fed,
odorless as water, leaving an explosive residue,
a radioactive stream like a witch’s curse
because my enemies conspired with the others,
the anonymous ones who know I’m resting
half asleep in this blue lawn chair on this Sunday morning
watching the green tree grow crooked and tall,
not worrying at all about a common household accident,
thinking I’m far too happy, almost innocent.

The Reason for Fables

                                 we are all victims
                    —Nadezhda Mandelstam

Some people die like Mandelstam
on top of a prison garbage heap
in frozen snow. 

Things can’t always be pretty.

But then there’s the version
where he dies beside a fire,
reciting the sonnets of Petrarch.

As always, take your pick.

Exile and cunning are overrated.
In this world, rats,
not poems, have the last say.

It Won't

It’s a shame the world doesn’t go away
when I ask it to, when I need it
to vanish like late afternoon sun
in the wrong season, when the sun
is barely there anyway, so why bother?

It’s a shame the world persists in its sadness
the way a fat man persists climbing a tree,
falling, getting up, trying again until the lower
branches squeal from too much effort.
Things are what we make them.

It’s a shame thinking of someone
doesn’t make her appear, the way it can
in sleep when the things you dream sometimes
are pleasant things, even if they shouldn’t be.
On a lucky day, you can live with this.




Stan Sanvel Rubin's fourth full-length collection, There. Here., was published in 2013 by Lost Horse Press. Poems recently in
Great River Review, forthcoming in The National Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest, and Hamilton Stone Review. He lives on the Olympic peninsula of Washington state.