Stephen Massimilla


When the brain is quiet and the night too long with no love, to squint
is to wake up images
and call them fishhawks

stealing under eyelids in sparse light, long skimming hooks
over lines that might
mirror their wings…

They are gliding so low. The fins of far islands, all else, every
shift there remains but a ridge
in clear water moving,

though I have visions of this shoreline other shorelines cannot
know, each rip let loose,
that dry screen of night.

On the balcony I’ll meet the orange air, waking for a sign of prey,
scanning for where I might have
begun…In the darkness

a single beaker sweats. See how the chill grants
me ripples of light! Too clear
to slake thirst, I am glass.



Stephen Massimilla is a poet, scholar, professor, and painter. His multi-genre volume, Cooking with the Muse (Tupelo, 2016), won the Eric Hoffer Book Award, the National Indie Excellence Award, the Independent Author Network Book of the Year Award, and others. Previous books and awards include The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat (a Stephen F. Austin University Press Prize selection); Forty Floors from Yesterday (winner of the Bordighera/CUNY Poetry Prize); Later on Aiaia (winner of the Grolier Poetry Prize); Almost a Second Thought (runner-up for the Salmon Run National Poetry Book Award, selected by X.J. Kennedy); a study of myth in modern poetry; a Van Rensselaer Award, selected by Kenneth Koch; several Pushcart Prize nominations; and other honors. He holds an M.F.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University and teaches literary modernism, among other subjects, at Columbia University and The New School. For more info: and