Tim Suermondt

The Construction Workers

I write a poem to praise them—
we both know something

about building from scratch.
My lines, I think,

are as sturdy as their girders
and if they never read them

it’s okay—when we stop for lunch
we devour a hearty sandwich,

assess what we’ve done, confident
we’ll put in a day to remember.

The God of Montmartre

Is an Hispanic man named Renaldo
who bears resemblance to Fernando Valenzuela,
the stout ex-Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher,
creator of flummoxed batters.

With his doleful playing on a silver saxophone,
flowers clinging to the wall of a yellow house
for backdrop, Renaldo catches the attention of a small
crowd, my wife included—utterly charmed.

I take a picture of them together, the two
quite playful, and I imagine they’d have made
a good pair if fate’s busy matchmaker had leaned
a little more this way than that.

“He’s my boyfriend,” my wife teases as the last gasp
of sunlight on this day in Paris cuts across the railing
of the stairway we descend, “but I’m keeping you.”
“The universe and I thank you,” I say as she takes my hand.

It Will Last

Even if it’s just a fading glimpse
of your face by a window, your arms
propped softly on a table—
these will be enough to sustain.
The world in its daunting, copious
indifference should make this impossible,
but here I am enthralled by a shadow,
your shadow on every named, unnamed
street everywhere—lovely, lovely.

Home Never Is

Every time I’m rather sure
I know where home is, the doubts
set in—which is why I always
keep two suitcases at the ready
in case a quick getaway is required.
It’s possible I’m looking in the wrong
places, maybe home is somewhere
else in the wide galaxy, or as a poet
so beautifully put it “after the afterlife.”
I love “Home, James”—he always knew
exactly where it was, how to get there.

Empire Blue

The signs were there over the many,
many years, and now the collapse is here.
Mandates and shouters, the most draconic

and dangerous rule the day, the nights
lonelier than an alleyway ignored for decades,
every city on notice to cease and desist

on the maintaining of beauty, children dreary
as their parents who hold up their hands
as scholars, politicians, bakers and soldiers

pass by on the latest tank, singing to the future
with the present rounded up and the past, poor
derelict, about to be rehabilitated by a cleansing

of certain memories, the dark stroke of magic.

Tim Suermondt is the author of five full-length collections of poems: Trying To Help The Elephant Man Dance (The Backwaters Press, 2007), Just Beautiful (New York Quarterly Books, 2010), Election Night and the Five Satins (Glass Lyre Press, 2016, The World Doesn’t Know You (Pinyon Publishing, 2017), and Josephine Baker Swimming Pool (MadHat Press, 2019). He has poems published in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Bellevue Literary Review, North Dakota Quarterly, december magazine, Plume Poetry Journal, Southern Humanities Review, Mudlark and Stand Magazine (England), among others. He is a book reviewer for Cervena Barva Press and a poetry reviewer for Bellevue Literary Review. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.  

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