Saturday Oct 20

Sam Herschel Wein Poetry Sam Herschel Wein is a current Chicago resident who specializes in aimless frolicking. He has been a fellow at Tent: Creative Writing in Amherst, Massachusetts, and is currently the Editorial Assistant at Construction Magazine. Recent work has appeared in Salt Hill, Nightblock Magazine, Cahoodaloodaling, Red Paint Hill, and New Plains Review. Learn more about him here

Put Down the Book

I want to spend time
counting the times they told me
not to be scared. I want it scripted
onto my arms, like tally marks.
It’s consuming, they say, they
dawdle instructions on a carpeted
window boarded up with figurines and
triangles and little strips of yarn.
You should–
that’s when I like to stop them, at the
word should. Like living in the gay
part of Chicago is enough. Like the
two women holding hands on my train
is enough. Like pulling eyes inward,
hat instead of face should do much of any–
thing. Like I don’t walk down the street
with a group of boys who talk about the
homos at the place they just left, ready
to start a fight. Like the word faggot isn’t
engraved on the pole of my front porch.
Like I’ve never been pushed against a
locker or wall. So I cower, so I don’t hold
anyone’s hand, so I don’t go up and ask
for his number, so I don’t smile
when he looks at me across the train.
I want to spend time counting
the chances I’ve missed because I was
scared. I want to write them all in a
novella and title it “these were not
lost but rather misfortuned, these
not mine but rather a country’s loss
of love, somewhere someone could
read this and just the thought
of that terrifies me,     
like iron knuckles, crowbars,
metallic clinks
in my hat that shuffle my hairs
into a master frenzy, into the
thing I can think.”
But no one would read a novella
like that, it’s too personal – too
much a journey for them to
get into it, and with such a long title.

Rules for When I am Sleeping

In a dream, I am travelling in a car to
Northern suburbs, Chicago. I am
tranquil, on a grand train, sculpted
stallions race at the window. My smile
won’t quit it. Cumbersome cornfields,
gargantuan mall, dark streets. I drove in
last month for Shabbos dinner. Jodi,
my other mother, brought strawberries
for my salad. They say, in dreams, that dir–
ections are meaningless, I could have been
diagonal in space. They say, in dreams,
clocks never tell time, often warped or
light spraying, glow sticks on camera. In a
dream, North Chicago is warped with a
mushroom cloud, sirens bleak and re–
routing my mind which way to drive next.
In a dream, I make up the rules for when
I am sleeping, sun pouring on my windowleg.
Am I on my way, always, to you? You
forest woods, you house of zebras, I lost
and not yet awake. In a dream, suburbs
are destroyed but I am tracks with a mining
cart, your lungs soon to coal and cough
and choke, I can see it. They say in dreams
the people you want most often wind up dead,
so you remember to never lose them. They
say in dreams to unlock every door with
an object that’s alive, so the doorknob
won’t miss its mother at night. In a dream,
your car stuck on my train’s tracks. In a
second dream, I watch your house burn to
blisters. In another dream, a gold–water flood.
I count deer heads eclipsed in rotten trees,
the Midwest passes me, I wind up turning
and mountain trailing. I spin through
the median three circles in an ice storm
and call you first. Every muscle in my hand
sings your name, like a map. I don’t make it
to your arms, but every night, I lay the
wooden pegs, smith the track, kiss the
nearby river and thank its good direction.