Evan Smith Rakoff


Self-Portrait as Syracuse Killing Delmore Schwartz

A frost has infiltrated your toes.
The snow by the bus stop is four feet high.

The bus comes once; it’s the wrong one.
You step between bus and curb,

water to your ankle.
The child in back urinates on himself,

the seat, his mother’s arm.
She says "stop" not for the child to stop

but for passengers to hear she didn’t
encourage letting go of his bladder.

Syracuse would have killed me if not for my dog
melting the dense snow.

It may still kill me. I don’t know the number
years passed before Syracuse caught Delmore Schwartz

in Times Square. If he kept a dog I’m uncertain.
Our landladies were unkind—full of apples and heavy cheese

I’m sure.
On Genessee and Erie, the bikers and chore boys

didn’t befriend him, offer fried dough and shank steak.
Birch trees stripped of bark—rugged yellow crocuses—flakes lilting their pretty, boring,

young heads.
Syracuse you mined graveyard.

Cover your face with a ski mask—
small holes for eyes and a slit for mouth.

Salt eats through cars, repeatedly, cold heart for Delmore.
You have one good burrito place and a plant that makes air-conditioners.