Poems, Poetry

Two Poems by Matthew Thorburn

they like to take things / money gold rings fingernails / and fathers they have / no need for you none for me


like to throw things
a man down a well a woman
through a window they

like to know things
names and dates your hopes
what hurts my hiding place

the combination to Saltzman’s
empty safe they like to
break things doors bicycles

legs and backs and necks
they like to take things
money gold rings fingernails

and fathers they have
no need for you none for me
except they’re hungry so

hungry and so angry
like shadows they like to hide
behind my back they like

to ride behind my eyelids
death is their dark horse
they never stand still.

The Boot

From the cracked attic
window we counted
ragged soldiers stumbling

across Schmidt’s field
coatless muddy one

bloodied a broken rifle
for a crutch unlucky
number seven Aunt

Adelaide laughed
too slow to ever escape

she squinted through
Father’s black binoculars
whose side are they on

I wondered I wished
they would get away

go away but a bald man
on horseback crashed
out of the sycamores

sword flashing white
a colonel maybe a major

we shouted down
to Mother but dear lord
Adelaide cried oh god

another horse broke
free of the burnt trees

circling red-flanked
no rider only still
stuck in one stirrup

an empty boot.


Matthew Thorburn’s most recent book is Dear Almost: A Poem. He’s also the author of five previous collections of poems, including This Time Tomorrow and the chapbook A Green River in Spring. His new book, The Grace of Distance, is due out from LSU Press in 2020. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and son.

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