“This is Not the Hammer” by Ben Rosenfeld


This is an empty house. The house is not just empty of people and furniture; there are no inner walls or appliances. There is no carpeting. There are no staircases. There is no light. It is a vacuum, bounded by the outer walls.


You wake up in the morning and you have to make a decision.


Like cutting your fingernails.


This staircase is a kind of crossroads. Instead of left or right, it offers up and down, directions with intrinsic value. Every morning you choose down, and you wonder what it is doing to you.


Like castrating a poet who keeps writing about his own penis.


Like swearing a blood oath when the moon isn’t full.


You imagine telekinetic powers and lift trucks off the street with your brain.


Like taking painkillers and rereading The Catcher in the Rye, because the first time you read it you had just had surgery, and now you can’t read it sober, because Holden is so whiny, and you think maybe you’re a phony.


Like writing about your feelings.


Like picking at the tiny pebbles and grit that get stuck on the soles of athletic shoes.


Your hand is shaking. It is either anxiety or the six cups of coffee you downed to smother your anxiety. Then you notice only one of your hands is shaking. Why did it have to be your left hand? You do everything with your left hand; this is a disaster.


Poems curated by FORTH poetry editors.

  1. August 24, 2015 @ 10:09 am cynthia ghazary

    This is so amazing, I can’t even say why I love it so much but I’m wearing cheap mascara and trying not to cry because I’m reading this at work before my first day of school and I can’t look like a raccoon. I don’t have any makeup remover. I don’t even know if it’s supposed to make me cry but the images are so breathtaking, I’m reading my own comment and thinking “You’re bullshitting” but I’m not. I really, really love this poem.

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