Sean Singer

Sean Singer’s first book Discography won the 2001 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, selected by W.S. Merwin, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. He is also the recipient of a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.




“There is no solitude greater than a samurai’s, unless it is that
of a tiger in the jungle…perhaps.”–Bushido
She shines like wheels
In the orange overcast.
Alone within and the walls
Hover like fronds.
Pulsing with emerald self-mastery
A door slides open.
She’s alone without language
As a blade…
A paper lantern and a
Lighter’s ornamental pearl.
She’s passing and flying
Like a submarine
But the white heaven belly
Means someday baby you’ll commune
With daylight’s milk.
What do you want me to do?
Encircle the pillow of grass–
Doughy fist in the human grasp.
Stacks of fields preaching lines
like balls of sheet music singing cusps
of snow, atavistic & keening.
Within each ivory pecan is a faded blond kazoo.
Storefront evangelists gasping proper
& faithful–sock swooping,
seeing the dead end of time:
The field was a lady young and fair
And died just groaning in despair.
Austere zither shadow-paints the mighty & meek,
in a jagged barrel up to the neck in salt.
Let the rains come down hard as a rail.
in their strict declamatory beams.
Let the cotton glomp together as a consolidation
of domination.
Snow launched for eleven fat ensembles.
A floating bridge dying like jasper & sugar.
Lukewarm night and morning appetite.
Radiant, unoccupied, & raspy the field was heard.
The tambourine rattles like a cloven hoof:
Your mother and father, fare you well,
Your wicked daughter is doomed to hell.
Within each white bulb is a white balloon:
sizzling filament clinches a fist of white.
A plant’s imprimatur as the pages unfold their map.
Within each ivory pecan is a faded blond kazoo.
We must love / we must love for the field
to care for us. In the field / in the field
we ought to trust.

The Devil’s headlamp stalks the red cells
        in a mouse miles from itself—the yellow lens
is resinous, fat, dense as pearl firming-up
        & renders its beam heavy with currents.
Into a dustbowl of annihilation the rotating head
        seizes its empire of blood; a storm collapses each
mouse bone as the threnody of rain crushes the air.


Their music is a quiet submitted to order by darkness.
        To translate their invisible wind is to sculpt a gastronomy
of the eye. They hang with their backs to the cave’s engine.
        Each ungodly contralto splits the radio-beam into a blister.
Sucking a berry from its root, they are a single purple wing.
        Do not tread in the sweeping arc where this puffing locomotive
swallows the engineered airstream. It is a silent calypso.


They unfurl their jerseys from Mexico to Miami
        in an anatomic miasma darkening their bunker.
They are darts of themselves, swallowing the porchlight
       melting in the melon punch & fists of downpour.
Their stuffy plunking ignites a  redline to the stucco ceiling.
       Curling clockwise like a coaxing faucet
their fronds dust a car horn in a polyp concerto.

Richard Pryor
The healthy flee from the ill,
but the ill also flee from the healthy,
like a wasp dying from the cardboard house,
and this explains perfectly
the tunnel entrance, dripping
with water into the seeping floor.
Hold onto your possessions
with your teeth, said the prophet,
and death with its cherry blossom
and insomnia, will move on.
What is it like to be burned?
Do you simply move toward
pain or cling, with fever,
to your right not to live?
The mayor of Peoria
moaned like a pink cocoon,
the bed did creak,
and the candle’s nude tangoed on the walls.
The fire’s black wings and the yellow
bodies flutter above the filth
and I desire and look no one
in the eye, when I enter.
At the moment one’s torture begins,
one’s covenant
with other human beings is lost forever.
Put On All the Lights
Three of the R&B singers took refuge in the darkest plush of Bamako nightclub. A sound erupted between them. Here the velveteen memory grows weak, so I don’t know if it was a fight or a wakeup call. But I can still see one of the women they had abandoned, standing by the bar, with its ochre padding and brass pins, yelping like a ragga, her hair thrust out like a pool, fighting for supremacy. Her ping-like crystal yells proclaimed above the fizzling light…Was she a victim? I have no idea. The gods of noise—her sisters—had condemned her to the backwoods of AM; but the chandelier above her head, hailed its beams like dust upon her head.