Eric Silver

Eric Silver likes loud music, cardigans, and staying up late reading books. He is the co-founder and four-time team member of Slam! at NYU, the most winningest collegiate slam poetry team. A recipient of the Emerging Jewish Artist Fellowship from the Bronfman Center, he self-published the first run of his chapbook Post-Awkward Expressionism. He has work published or upcoming in Potluck, Black Heart Mag, Borderline,and anthologies from Great Weather for Media and Write Bloody Publishing. A high school English teacher in Brooklyn, he wants to be somewhere between Robin Williams in Dead Poets' Society and College Dropout Kanye.

 

Four Poems (October, 2014. Issue 47.)

This Is Everything I Know About Alaska

In 1867, the US Secretary of State offered Russia
7 million dollars for Alaska, two cents an acre.
The 49th state is twice the size of Texas,
but is the least populated in the nation.
This cold stagger of land is your home.

I realize that I should know more about where you come from
if you continue to take up residence in my head.
Like did you know the state flower is the wild forget-me-not
as if the Alaskan faithful bunched this untamed bouquet
so I can never stop thinking about you.

I am much better at studying maps than figuring out
with this unexpected fastdance, how you've twisted my stomach
rivers sloshing through valleys,
how I can only describe you in terms of heat:
a furnace, a fireplace, an inferno on the tundra.

Atlases and states are finite things,
You, a boundless snowstorm,
I cannot find a way out.

In the native tongue, Alaska means,
“the object towards which the action of the sea is directed.”
The tide has no other choice but to throw itself against a sturdy thing.
Here, you are the sea, or I am the sea
or we are both the sea, terrified of finding
a sturdy thing to throw ourselves against.

Your home is the omission of bigger,
how in the solstice months, the Alaskan sun
is a fickle mother. It is either totally light
or totally dark dark. I know that there is no real solution
than other pulling on an extra layer and hoping for the best.

Four thousands miles away, in my everchanging apartment,
we have asked each other if the other is real,
if this is actually happening,
if you are going run out the door when the darkness rolls in all season.
I am not from your state but I am a researcher of prayer,
on magicking the intangible into real. We cannot see the heat
but feel what it warps us from the inside. So yes I am real yes
this is happening yes I will stay yes I will stay

When you superimpose Alaska on a map of the Unites States,
it spreads the whole length of the county.
You wild forget-me-not, you flame tearing across the tundra,
you are a resizing thing. This is where I measure myself,
this is where I stand against the constant sky.
And for you, I am stretching from coast to coast.

A Hallmark Card For Your First Antidepressant Prescription

Sitting in the psychologist’s waiting room,
you told me there’s a little girl
with the same drawling name as yours.
She wields only one front tooth
and makes plastic dinosaurs kill each other for fun. I imagine that she
is somehow you, plucked from the past as a miniature road sign.

I am four thousand miles away from that office,
and count friends who couldn’t get out of bed today.
or got out of bed but wish that they hadn’t.
Or their bodies are out of bed
but organs remain lashed to the sheets.

If we could tell our insides
to just follow along, step to the same rhythm
that everyone else has trained themselves to swing to,
it would be so much easier. We would go to the gym three times a week
and stop watching sad movies because the world has enough of that already.

But you have chosen the path of the assassin or waltz instructor
or a dangerous job title to match this treacherous endeavor.
Yes, you are and have always been a gaptooth smile,
an ardent commander of toy-on-toy violence. This will continue
once you step out of the office, once you pop the childproof cap,
once you come back to New York, and once everything after.

If you worry about your edges dulling, know you are the limitless knife.
Even at your most worn, you are still enough to julienne concrete.
When panic leaves,
you will still smell like evergreen, thread together a mixtape
for any occasion, devour books and cheap Chinese food with reckless abandon.

It is terrifying to ask for help. I should know; I never do.

The way out is not quiet gallantry. I keep everyone I know from
wasting their finite energy on me, a house of burnt-out bulbs.
I am too afraid to tell those who love me what a snare my mind has become.
You refuse the darkness. You howl until the lights come on.
Set the house aflame as a declaration of fight and good.
If our brains try to bind us in quiet, you will slash us out
like life depends on it, because most days it does.

The pills are deep breaths above water. They will not wear you down
to a pointless blade, an erased thing.

You will smash dinosaurs, grinning like an open summer window.

10th and 5th

if I stand in the center of fifth avenue
on tenth street, I can see where the urban planners
disassembled me for parts. Starting from the west,

there’s the creative writing building
my new therapist office
my ex-girlfriend’s new dorm, a room I have never loved in
the Jewish life center
and the bagel place that hawks 45 cent castoffs on Monday afternoons.

a body begins from its most developed and works down:
the brain to the heart to the gut to the feet, who run without question.

And 10th is my corporal block:
I learn to write
with all this gasoline I’ve talked out of me
like the girl who I called fire and let engulf
my entire body, swearing it does not hurt
and I come from a people who survived
by swearing off pain and walking forward –
an excuse for how I will take care of myself
if it is a special occasion and I have the pocket change.

What We Leave Behind

My grandfather went to jail for 4 months in 1982 for tax evasion.
He pled guilty because the IRS was going after his wife.

While incarcerated, he kept every single letter: from friends,
associates, synagogue officials, children, and Debbie.

An entire photo album spills with his looping Ls, her regimented
print like she could dictate her love while boiling eggs

and scrubbing down Formica counter tops. We did not write any letters,
but I could make a flimsy case that depression or New York City

or a heterosexual relationship is a sentence that you pled into.
Your g-mail inbox clasps all the poems I wrote you in April

and you still text me once a day, usually at night when you miss
devoted heat of a loving body. On Facebook, you can scroll through

simple photos of us at diners or my birthday, comments of friends
who believed in us -- how sweet I was, how cool you are.

We can’t hold any of it in our hands, but it exists with help – a wifi connection
and a laptop. It does not stay unless willed into being.

So maybe, for us, for how I loved you through
a fake incarceration, that’s enough.

The Legendary