from "This Sentence Is a Metaphor for Bridge," July 2018


Woven into tears you will not shed,
his language sweeps your hunger from the room.
Forgiveness ends itself, so don't assume
you'll never wish another person dead.
What rises in the heat like fresh baked bread
escapes the naming you've prepared. Consume
the body that results; rescue the groom,
closing for good the gate through which he fled.

Wrapped around the root of love, the long tongue
passion gifts to the ones who liberate
the clichéd bottoms of their hearts quivers.
Look outside. That couple walking by. Their young
embrace will last until the first one shivers.
The weathered stone you bring will bear their weight.




Trust the river you skipped stones across
when you were young. Become the folded page
that marks the place where reading paused. The gloss
they hid you in, that theoretical rage
rushing down this mountainside, the well
you cannot help but drink from, fills your kiss,
turns your mouth to a crypt. Be the gazelle
the cheetah can't bring down. Outrun the abyss.
No one you are looking for will smile
when you find them. Nonetheless, each awaits
appropriate translation. Reconcile
what you can. If you can, forgive the fates.

Lead them deep into this catacomb.
The water's rhythm makes it feel like home.




Leave aside the mercies you’ve received.
Refuse amelioration. Place your trust
where camouflage evaporates. Disgust
will cast the longest light; the past you've grieved
will rise. The turning world that you believed
would always turn for you will fling your dust
among the stars, a barren wanderlust,
and then that world will stop. You've been deceived.

If faith requires doubt, you can't pretend
the other door will open when you ask.
You need to know; you cannot condescend.
Reciprocity delineates
the limits you can test. Remove the mask.
Make yourself what love obliterates.



Richard Jeffrey Newman

Richard Jeffrey Newman has published two books of poetry, Words for What Those Men Have Done (Guernica Editions 2017) and The Silence of Men (CavanKerry Press 2006), as well as a chapbook, For My Son, A Kind of Prayer (Ghostbird Press 2016). In addition, he has co-translated three books of classical Persian poetry, most recently The Teller of Tales: Stories from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (Junction Press 2011). Newman is on the executive board of Newtown Literary  a Queens-based literary non-profit and curates the First Tuesdays reading series in Jackson Heights, New York. He is Professor of English at Nassau Community College. His website is


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, July 2, 2018 - 11:24