A permanent home and museum for poets and poetry

Poems by Matthew Olzmann

Return to Matthew Olzmann

[accordion] [acc_item title=”THE MINOTAURS“]

Please someone go upstairs and check to see if the people who live above me
are or are not Minotaurs…
—Mike Scalise


The TV set: smashed
Three of the four front windows: smashed.
The medicine cabinet: mauled beyond recognition.

Upstairs, the neighbors play like natural disasters.
They don’t mean to keep you up all night.
It’s just that their apartment is too small for their bodies
and they have no where else to go.

Other objects that met their demise: one record player,
one full-length mirror, two nightstands,
one Tivoli glass cabinet and all eighteen pieces
of the Royal Albert Old Country tea set it once held inside.

The curtains: drawn up tightly, even in the day.
The groceries: purchased by a courier and delivered long after dark.

In my apartment, I stare at the ceiling.
The people upstairs laugh like the drinkers of vodka, bowling pins,
or trains that have forgotten the meaning of their tracks.

They don’t sound angry, only loud.
Just two people singing and stomping and shoving
over the bookcases night after night.

I could call the cops,
but I remember this past summer,
when the last couple who lived there was evicted.

I never saw them, not even in passing.
Just came home one day and their belongings
were piled out front: a labyrinth
of end tables, chairs made of oak, coatracks,
trinkets and curiosities.
A dining table with teeth marks on its surface.
A grandfather clock with its face ripped off and its guts torn out.

(First appeared in Poetry Northwest)

[/acc_item] [acc_item title=”Hello Earth,“]

I walk through you like a secret agent, a spy.
I wear my body like an eviction notice.
I learn your language just to say goodbye.

My passport is a revolving door. My
astrological sign is an exit ramp.  I practice
your language just to say goodbye.

I memorize your customs only to deny
their validity. Here are my diagrams, my concise
reports—like a secret agent’s.  A sp

in the Land of Endless Theory.  I apply
no pressure to the wound. I let it all hiss
out, the way I learn your language to say goodbye.

We are never here for long. I ally
myself to the minus sign, then confess
to you like a secret agent. A spy

would understand this place, the high
cost of disappearing. Let’s not play nice—
I enter like a secret agent, a spy,
then learn your language just to say goodbye.

[/acc_item] [/accordion] [divider scroll_text=”BACK TO TOP”]