Tim Suermondt ~ Four Poems


Writing a poem in the bath­room
of an excep­tion­al­ly small Paris apart­ment,
so as not to wake my wife who’s sleep­ing
well enough for us both.

A poem of no gen­er­al or par­tic­u­lar
significance—which means it has a great chance
of being a poem of gen­er­al and par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance.

About a man who’s look­ing for his pants
and a woman dressed as a clown faint­ing on the street—
hope­less­ly French despite a burg­er joint brought in
in the third stan­za.

Enough writ­ten to work with—I turn off the light,
stum­ble back to bed—counting on my wife to tell me
the clown suit is a stroke of genius

when she reads it at daylight—holding the cup
of cof­fee in her hands, sway­ing to the words
as if they were her own.


The heav­ens have noth­ing to say”
a poster on the wall of an ancient tem­ple pro­claims—
though we might have devel­oped deaf­ness
to their entreaties. But whether a tem­ple in the after­noon
or a din­er at mid­night the work goes on,
our hands and machines flail­ing away
with con­fi­dence and doubt—all the ying and yang
and every­thing in between. What can the heav­ens say to us
that we haven’t learned to cleave close to the vest, the hard way.


I find home, as much as any human being can,
wad­ing into the crowds—all shapes and col­ors:
the busi­ness suits, anarchist’s shirts, sum­mer dress­es,
tight jeans and the sweet amal­gam of sky­scrap­ers,
bode­gas and book­stores that still love books.
While one of our cit­i­zens is spread­ing hay in a barn
I’ve grabbed my smudged cap and head­ed toward
my favorite cathe­dral, the pizze­ria by the man-made
riv­er, along the old rail­road lines, an actu­al stone’s throw
from the race­track where the beau­ti­ful peo­ple min­gle
with those who have lit­tle to spare but put it down
any­way on the likes of “Jewel of the Black Nile”.
A huge sign of a pep­per­oni slice wel­comes all com­ers,
the high moun­tains in the dis­tance lone­ly, incon­solable.


I’m not sure if it was in the mid­dle
or after three quar­ters, but I got out of bed,
went to the study and looked out the large
bay win­dow, see­ing far into the night,
into some future. I saw myself reflect­ed
by the out­side lights and I have to say
I felt like a King sur­vey­ing his Kingdom,
though roy­al­ty has always seen fit to ignore
me and I have no desire to rule over any­one.
I felt strange­ly as exhil­a­rat­ed as I did lone­ly
and a real sense of chill made me go back
to the bed­room. I was glad to see my wife
occu­py­ing most of the bed, sprawled out
beau­ti­ful­ly with a hand on her chest. The King
had some ter­ri­to­ry to retake qui­et­ly, qui­et­ly
as the world itself gen­tly push­ing into morn­ing.


Tim Suermondt is the author of four 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) and The World Doesn’t Know You, pub­lished by Pinyon Publishing in late 2017. His fifth book JosephineBaker Swimming Pool will be released in 2018 by MadHat Press. He has poems pub­lished in Poetry, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Bellevue Literary Review, North Dakota Quarterly, decem­ber mag­a­zine, Plume Poetry Journal, Poetry East 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.