Previous  Back to Issue Next 

Stephen Danos

Winning is a larynx / splintered into narrow / voices, the same poem sobbed / in different keys.


The eucalyptus outlasts the roses
The roses outlast the tulips
The teeth outlast the gums
The teeth outlast the braces
The retainer outlasts the re-alignment
Silicone outlasts latex
Direct sunlight outlasts silicone
Bastards outlast legitimacy
Bastards fast in the monastery
Monsters outlast poets
Poets outlive the monsters
Logic is like a birthmark
You can't choose what skin it stains
Smartphones usurp darkness
Darkness outlasts pixel light
Satellite dishes outlast people
People outlast We, The People
The apocalypse grating and grand
A cold front teeming with terror
The bouquet flirts with living forever
Love for the bouquet is fleeting
A toxic armada sunk via tempest
A breakup launched via text message
The christening outlasts the infant
The crew outlasts the christening
The ocean swishes their bones
around in its mouth
like hydrogen peroxide
The apocalypse produces
a new cavernousness
The cavity outlasts the tooth
The teeth outlast the roses
The teeth outlast the roses
The teeth outlive the bones


Winning is daybreak with wet eyes.
You assemble the loudness
of a flower, nameless as a man.
Doing something nice for someone
like finishing their war.
Ant eggs dotting a plate and parsley
on the edges, monument and garnish.
The dark billowed breath of morning,
lemongrass on your palm.
Winning is a larynx
splintered into narrow
voices, the same poem sobbed
in different keys. Your fear
in watching a brain crackle
and crunch with bi-polar.
Cities separated into districts.
Cities as hierarchy of needs, belvederes.
What glass stuck in your paw?
To pout upon finding out you are
the pawn, not the queen.
Winning is the thorn removing the lion.
Family trauma is a tired sidewalk—
eat the entire pineapple before bedtime.
Convince yourself that your politics
are flawless, vinegar coleslaw.
Winning is the flavor of char,
thieving life. There is a sadness rising
to the top of my coffee—
what wired patience. Acidity is the city
you abandoned. The greasiness of patience
like liquid nitrogen. How does
waiting mildew your organs?
Why don't you have organs?
I haven't glanced at my phone once
during your sermon. That's a lie
in a jewelry box. I already
ordered pizza for the miners.
I am ready to bed the coal,
derision. We break on the regular,
we break when others break.
During arguments, we tend
to take afternoon's side.
To win is to tie your own shoelaces
together and stumble, drunken
love, arranged marriage.
To win is to be a copycat,
never out of fashion.
To lose is your goal. To fall,
fingers torn on the monolith.

Stephen Danos authored the poetry chapbooks Playhouse State (H_NGM_N Books, 2012) and DO NOT WANT (alice blue books, 2015). His poems appear or are forthcoming in American Letters & Commentary, Boston Review, NÖO Journal, Pleiades, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere. He is co-founder and Editor in Chief of Pinwheel, an online journal of poetry and art. He lives in Seattle, where he co-curates The Monorail Reading Series.