Ricardo and Isabel Nirenberg since 1998
Poems by Tim Suermondt
A year ago in Paris, at a reception
I must have stumbled into by accident.
We chatted a bit until a thin woman
interjected herself between us, and I
excused myself to go and snare another
glass of wine and a plate of heavy cheese.
I never made it back to Modiano.
Now that he’s won the Nobel Prize, I
feel as though mine too is at hand—
crazy, but I am truly buoyed. I
boldly dropped in on my butcher
who said the day after the announcement,
“Tim, you didn’t win the Nobel again.”
“If only I could write the way you cut.”
“That’s what I like about you,” he said,
axing off the legs of a chicken, “win or lose,
you always display class” and I walked out
as I usually do with my wrapped up beef,
but this time actually saying, “The glory
is coming” and marching down the Rue Lepic
like justice itself, thinking of what I’ll say
to my friend, Modiano, who made it possible.
On the bus I actually heard a man say
“love abandoned me a long time ago”
and had I been empathetic I’d have told
him it was rather poetic and never to forget
the beauty of “this too shall pass.”
I looked out the window and saw a woman
who looked like my wife standing in front
of a blue building—a forlorn structure
badly in need of paint and forty years earlier.
I thought of my wife and of meeting her
in the bustle of downtown, multitudes fanning
out over the concrete for incredible bargains.
I was exhausted already, but primed to do my part
watching her marvel over the smallest items
her expertise assured her were worthy of attention.
I bowed my head slightly, as the man who felt
he’d been abandoned probably did as well—
both of us stitching the world one day at a time.
ON A STREET IN EAST GERMANY,
FIVE DAYS AFTER THE WALL FALLS
More people on the street
than had been seen in the past five months.
A cadre of young men on rollerblades
and couples flirting with each other all day,
even though their defiance is safe now.
The members of the little Stasi club
insisting they were never Stasi—it was all
a most terrible misunderstanding.
Shafts of sunlight threading through the gray
of the sky and sounds in the night frightening
no one, wagons and cars accounted for.
THE ONLY TIME JESUS IS ON THE COURT, 1979
He’s making every 20 footer.
are wondering if this guy is human.
He drains his 200th straight shot,
summons the ball
one final time, palms it
like the lesser god, Julius Erving—
bounces it to a group of young men
the chain-link fence.
“Your turn,” he says, “and Peace to you all.”
He walks off in the direction of Chinatown,
his gray sneakers
gliding over pavement
as if the world were made of eggshells,
while the sound of Grand Master Flash
swaggers and rolls,
showboating toward Heaven
or the furthest regions of Planet Lovetron.
Tim Suermondt is the author of two full-length collections of poems: TRYING TO HELP THE ELEPHANT MAN DANCE (The Backwaters Press, 2007) and JUST BEAUTIFUL (New York Quarterly Books, 2010.) His third collection ELECTION NIGHT AND THE FIVE SATINS will
be published early in 2016 by Glass Lyre Press. He has poems published and forthcoming in
Poetry, The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, Blackbird, Bellevue Literary Review, PANK, North Dakota Quarterly, december magazine, Plume Poetry Journal and Stand
Magazine (U.K.) among others. He lives in Cambridge (MA) with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong.
His work has appeared several times in Offcourse.