Elegy (From Where the Image Came)

Your cane, splintered, hanging on a hook

on the wall. Append another fetish to the

fridge with a magnet. Put another fetish

in a frame beneath the lamplight

muddy & transitional. Another testament

we endure solemnity, too soon but often longer

than you’d wanted

The cross, hanging on your door, is torture

like a bandaid. Torture is a talisman, homespun, a judgement

somehow, eye level with every visitor

My orgasm is a bandaid for mourning

A practiced moaning, rite

to & from eternity. Here I dreamt of you last night:

a distorted repetition of my youth. You, alive,

not recognizing me in the freezer aisle

furious with the world, unable to unclench your jaw to speak,

a straying, curious mylar balloon

tied around your neck. This is the cheapest futon you could find, I remember

There was vomit on the carpet the night we found you.

There is new paint partially done in the room now

Vacant, a pentimento to be forgotten by

sale & more death I suppose. & Here

I checked the kitchen before dawn. To see

You’re not glistening red anymore. Your habit for vaseline,

a sole remainder in the bathroom drawer.

You were blue in the face, I saw you leave like that

I saw you in a dream, the same only for your limping

like too many years. How I remember you

The missing voice & all

Hollowing across a listing price

a state line soon, a fracture



Click here to read R. Sam Ross on the origin of the poem.

Image by Amin Moshrefi on Unsplash, licensed under CC.2.0

R. Sam Ross:
I like my lines to trouble rigidness, and in “Elegy” I’m mismatching boundaries between grief and sexuality. I played with images to give mourning conceptual texture, indexing (among other things) my personal experience with Christian symbols’ repressive roles in domestic spaces.

The poem is a recollection of the body. It’s an elegy remembering my grandpa. It’s an inventory of some physical remnants of possession after loss, and at the same time, an expression of disidentification with austere, evangelical values. It’s an attempt to reconcile original love with increasing distance and parochial morality.

Though it’s lyric, I want my poems to extend transitive imaginations—to move freely outside of totalized narrative. On an improvised conceptual map, “Elegy” observes and traverses an empty house preparing for market, self-pleasure, the surreality of dream, and dream’s close but most often faltering connection to waking memory.

R. Sam Ross
Latest posts by R. Sam Ross (see all)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.