Fall 2019

Tender

By SM Stubbs

For five days straight a man
settles on the same worn stool,
peels an orange, eats each
segment between sips
of the same brand of beer
he drank the day before.
A single hour to recall
who he used to be or to forget
whatever leaves a scar.
The rest of the week
he scrapes his knuckles
against machine parts and
the dashboard of his truck.
He feels like a ghost
pouring itself into a stranger.
He feels like a song
no one has ever heard.
Summer again and that heat
it hurts to breathe is the only thing
he remembers ever wanting.


SM Stubbs is co-owner of a bar in Brooklyn. He is the recipient of a scholarship to Bread Loaf Writers Conference and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets. He is winner of the 2019 Rose Warner Poetry Prize from The Freshwater Review and was the runner-up in both the Atticus Review Poetry Contest 2019 and the Cagibi 2019 Macaron Prize in Poetry. His work has appeared in Poetry Northwest, The Normal School, Puerto del Sol, Jabberwock Review, The Pinch, Cherry Tree, Opossum, Glassworks, The Bookends Review, Carolina Quarterly, and others.

Fall 2019