Gary Short

Ladder, Van Gogh’s Eyes, Mean Grass

Chinese proverb: if you open enough doors,
Eventually a tiger will leap out.

The fondness of certain artists for depicting
Stairs or ladders that lead to nowhere.

During the radio interview the physicist says he had
A “revelation,” then quickly corrects, “I mean a discovery.”

If this life is quick light between
Two long darknesses, then I am lonely.

I seem to like any recipe that concludes with
“Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.”


In Van Gogh’s self-portrait, his eyes are painted green, but
His brother Theo reminds us that Vincent’s eyes were a deep brown.

The old town clock on the town square in Oxford, Mississippi, has
No hands. Across the street, a bronze Faulkner sits on a park bench.

Yesterday, did anyone, anywhere,
Mention the poems of Edwin Arlington Robinson?

I like the notion of Einstein stopping at his front door
To wind his pocket watch before he leaves his house.

Time present & time past are both going to be present
In time future. But is time future ever present in time past?


Some kids playing tag on the fresh green lawn, but one girl slips
& takes an awful spill. Gets up slowly, shrugs, & says, Mean grass.

As they say in Guatemala, Carpe mañana.
I’ve never heard anyone say that in Guatemala or anywhere else.

Moving the books of the recently dead to my nightstand—Creeley, Clifton, Rich, Hall, Levine, Franz & C.D. Wright—the stack grows tall.

The patient tells the doctor, “I feel like I’m invisible.”
And the doctor says, “I’m sorry, I can’t see you today.”

It takes time. The present tense is
Incapable of conclusion. I’ll wait.



Gary Short is the author of three poetry books. He has received a NEA fellowship, a Stegner fellowship at Stanford, a residency at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and a Pushcart Prize. The London-based band Wovoka Gentle take their name from titles of two of his poems. He has work forthcoming in American Journal of Poetry, On the Seawall and Terrain. He makes his home in Panajachel, Guatemala.