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Philip Seymour Hoffman, with Figurative Language

    Matthew Tuckner

So many selves stacked on top

of selves, it’s easy to let some drop.

I’ve killed time this way.


Schlepping the cargo

through the sprawl

of lantern flowers & dollar bills.


Lugging the load across the drawbridge

that creaks like a passage from Lear

when it splits to let the barges pass.


It’s true, the mess I made

has a mouth. A flute for a brain.

A deviated septum of the heart.


It’s true, I just wanted joy

to fashion itself a body it could corrupt

& burst into smithereens.


Joy, it appears, is lazy. Even the Gowanus Canal,

green as leeks, recites the same well-worn

platitudes as it rocks itself to sleep.


I think I can, it thinks,

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can

even if it can’t, or won’t.


I think I could’ve been a monk in another life,

or a martian, or a butterfly that drinks

the salty tears as they trickle down a turtle’s face.


I think I could’ve been something

too true to be true. A beautiful glitch.

The bloated body of a humpback whale


washed up in the heart of the Amazon.

A rain of frogs spilling

from a silver sky.

 Matthew Tuckner is a writer from New York. He is currently an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at NYU where he was Poetry Editor of Washington Square Review and taught in the Undergraduate Writing Program. He was the winner of the 2022 Yellowwood Poetry Prize, selected by Paige Lewis, and was a finalist for the annual Mississippi Review Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, The Adroit Journal, 32 Poems, Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, Pleiades, West Branch, The Cincinnati Review, The Missouri Review, and Poetry Daily, among others.

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