Amy Lawless


I stand in the back row doing nothing with my hands
because smoking kills.
I won’t pull my hair out one strand at a time or
mellow out about anything.
Let’s put a cardboard cut out of an old ugly poet in the corner
and replace his hand with a wet washcloth
for handshaking.
I want to see clearly. I want to see everything clearly.
Fog does not do today.
Whoever decides that saints are perfect
& perfection is a goal is wrong.
Which guy’s bed might I destroy this year?
Each body of water has an edge and a beginning.
Not your relatives or mine. Just let me agree
to damage other peoples’ relatives with my spine.
They replaced the wall with a hole
so I can spy on what’s doing what.
I had a dream that Sara called
freaking out about the future
and what to pour into it.
There are those who we have cared about for a long time – our friends.
And there are those we don’t know that we will grow to care for.
Our friends will be on the other end forever.
But they won’t always know what to say or when to say it.
Some of us don’t even keep the ringer on
and are therefore barely reachable
but we’re here
and you need to know that.
Sometimes we travel
and we’re even less accessible,
as available the basil in my fridge.
Trick question. I don’t keep basil in my fridge.
But when I do have basil it spoils quickly leading to
frustration and lack of basil purchases.

And we’ll continue to drink together in
New York, which is disgusting & consistently so.
In other places too.

I want you to have the keys to my apartment

I want to hear you come up the stairs
And slip in
I want each slip to be an acknowledgement
that we’re both going to die
and urgently
how we don’t know when and it might be soon and it might be then or then or


Through the trees
an impressive display of light appears.
Through the trees an impressive display
of light is seen. The broad leaves.

I am having a coin made
to commemorate this moment.
I’m in it, you’re in it, and so is this tree.
It’s hard to capture loss explicitly on a coin,
so I will make it thin and not worth much
so when you spend it,
it’s like you never owned it.

Amy Lawless is the author of two collections of poetry: My Dead (Octopus Books, 2013) and Noctis Licentia (Black Maze Books, 2008). She received a poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2011. Her poems have recently appeared in iO: A Journal of New American Poetry, Octopus Magazine, as the Poem-A-Day from the Academy of American Poets, and her collaborations with Angela Veronica Wong have recently appeared in Best American Poetry 2013 and Pinwheel. She grew up in Boston and lives in Manhattan.