Four Poems by Samuel Selinger

by Samuel Selinger

photography Daniel Area Wakahisa

Issue IX

Leopardi in California

This was everything I believed.
I am not a religious man,
and so the whole charisma of night.
Prayer is a game to become
a different person.
I'll teach you differences.
Think of a child—from space
he learns what away means,
and away continues,
a song in his head.
The night traffic
was a web of coughs
converging in the city hub,
orange  fluorescence,
an endless fake sunrise.
We took what seemed
like a decent road out of town,
great view of a small valley
to the west, contemplating the desert,
the dry wind, the long spaces,
and then I am only the walls
around my sleep,
a little house of sounds.


From a distance, city is spread unevenly over the hilltop, as if city was one unified element, like snow or fog or jam. A little closer, the shapes become apparent: each ancient building tucked childlike into the landscape, and inside the walls the roads also are tucked in and winding illogically into catacombs and sudden alleys, as if here all architecture is protection, and even the wind gets tangled until it is only a palpable quiet, or a lost sense of purpose. They say the town formed on its hilltop around daily mule paths, until the ruts hardened and roads were built over them (and then I remembered that in Italian, via means "road" but also "way" and "away") and the town accumulated through such accidents, and hardened in its ways until it became a habit, like thinking of the present as only the endmost tip of remembering. And so a wall was made and a name, and then the tourists arrived, looking from inside and from outside, the way an old man stares into a mirror, so much forgotten and unsaid giving some small, convoluted meaning to time.

The Field

Went out today,
which is, generally,
a remote place.
I can point out the hillocks
and willow-root,
the March snowdrops,
but nothing will learn
its own name,
and a happiness like sleep
comes up in the echoes
of that thought. Such slow
performance art,
a tree is happening,
a slap or a caress, it's all
a question of tempo.
Thank you for your
quiet. When I have
come to the bottom
of all my thoughts,
and found a secret
exit, I will tiptoe out
and visit you.

The Jupiter Symphony

The best example of anything would be something completely different. The wind stuttering, clouds shuffling in their empty suits, etc. And you are a small piece of time all crumpled into itself, and in the inner folds it almost seemed this strange origami had made out of time something that was time’s opposite. What every small afternoon shadow is to night, what every blink is to a long sleep, you right now are to yourself in time going all the way back to when TV shows looked a little different, although the fashions were as arbitrary and cruel as now or ever. And the stars bring old news, insane in their numbers, and spaced with an unbelievable lack of art. What I thought about you yesterday is here today, and what you think of me now will be here tomorrow. This will go on a little while. 

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