by Gary J. Whitehead

Published in Issue No. 208 ~ September, 2014

Up to the black and light-riddled surface,

they rise, shaking

out of nowhere, as memories

do from their depths, uninvited, merciless

and buoyant with uncertainties.


Tonight, seeing one noiselessly appear

in the breaking

lines of a full moon’s bright writing,

yards from the dock, I remembered your hair

on a night when we were fighting.


So much of it had fallen out by then.

You were taking

strands of it and strangling your thumb.

Strange what rises, red-eyed and unbidden,

with a beauty that strikes us dumb.


account_box More About

Gary J. Whitehead's poems recently appear or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Epoch, and The Massachusetts Review. His third book of poetry, A Glossary of Chickens, was chosen by Paul Muldoon for the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets and published in 2013 by Princeton University Press. His work has been featured on Garrison Keillor's NPR program The Writer's Almanac and on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Guardian’s Poem of the Week. Whitehead has been the recipient of the Anne Halley Poetry Prize (The Massachusetts Review), a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, and the Princeton University Distinguished Secondary School Teaching Award. A featured poet at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival and the Princeton Poetry Festival, he teaches English at Tenafly High School in New Jersey and lives in the Hudson valley of New York.