Dana Alsamsam


I listen to the thump
           of lovers above me

shaking the wall
           like something terrible,

the sounds they make
           filling their ears & mine.

I watch you sleep,
           the tree rings of breath

rippling outwards or in,
           our bed an old willow

matured then cut down
           a hole at the center—

Quickly, I climb in.
           I don’t mind the tangle

of sheets around us
           or how your hands

tuck between your knees
           like a bookmark.

Our silence & fullness
           leaf as I fall

into sleep with you,
           the rhythm upstairs

becoming white noise,
           the hum of working bees

slowing & speeding up
           & growing concentric.

Is that Sappho you’re reading?

A slow erosion of thought     how do you go forward
while standing still     Or biking in circles on a small blue bike
Utter     utterly     How do you say desire without repeating
everything that’s been said     i.e.     nothing at all     It seems
you’re alluding to a categorical problem     Those little boxes
those tiny rooms that pull ponytails and sprinkle hair
into a field of crushed lipsticks     You had me at sci-fi
garbage-fire heart     cyborg melody limbs     you had me
at neuro-atypical     at bending youth and idealism     Do you see
my thousand collars     My grin at your paperback Sappho
I want you to let me speak the truth     brightness falls out of you
like a jewelry box jangling to the floor     an opal pendant
two baby teeth     the book I leant with intimate marginalia
ochre freckled clavicle dew drop     I want to live there in your
dark space     in your too-loud train voice     a stillness so new
we burst into glittering

Dana Alsamsam is the author of a chapbook, (in)habit (tenderness lit, 2018), and her poems are published or forthcoming in Gigantic Sequins, North American Review, Tinderbox Poetry, Bone Bouquet, The Massachusetts Review, Salamander, BOOTH and others. She is a Lambda Literary Fellow in the 2018 Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices. A Chicago native, Dana is currently an MFA candidate and a teacher at Emerson College.