“Slight of Hand” by Alex Greenberg

Alex Greenberg (age 15)


This is a landscape to be sketched & left uncolored.

A boy stands at the crossroads of a ruined city, waving a bell without a whistle.

Consider the tumbleweed of his hair, consider the muscles in his neck,

white gossamer, tenuous like the brambles bearing the black walnuts of summer.

Every rock is a headstone waiting to be named:

Here lies the body of a newborn who saw only light in his life.

A procession of townspeople tour their city as if for the first time

peering into the cross-sections of houses where a shower head spews

brown hibiscus over the bathroom tiles, where a boy’s bed has unmade itself

& the bats locked in his sister’s diary have escaped & lodged their way

into the empty light sockets of her closet. A mother spools the husks of a broken crib

into the dress her daughters will wear when they drape the flag

back over the city gate & sing the anthem of their bodies.

This is all bound to happen again:

the singularity gave us the bedrock for the bomb.

from 2017 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Alex Greenberg: “Poetry lets me breathe when I feel stifled and serves as a vital outlet of expression for me. In poetry, there is a real sense of discovery that shocks me each time I sit down with a piece of paper and pen.”

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