The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Daniel Saalfeld

Classical Music


The first time you go to the symphony, it is grand.
Red velvet seats and the noble aura
created by everyone in dresses and suits
would last long in your memory
if you were never to see it again.

The second time’s a pain in the ass.
You’re sick and have work to do,
yet you put on that jacket and tie
because you don’t want to break her heart
turning down the fifty-dollar ticket.

On the way, you have to pick up her friend,
who’s not on the corner
under the Chinese restaurant sign
you told him to stand under.
Circling around for him ensnarls you

in traffic, and she starts screaming,
“We’re going to be late,”
so you start calling this guy a fag
instead of Gary, and the whole evening’s
about gone to shit. The opera theater

looks the same as it did,
but this time you don’t just breeze
over the bored looks;
you bear into them, blinded
by the forces bringing them out.

Daniel Saalfeld

Juicy Fruit


Some nights I don’t sleep because names like Eddie
    Tervy cross my mind for the first time in eleven years,
and I’ll keep thinking about how great Eddie
    would be to write. I won’t even have to think;
Eddie’s name will keep telling me how everybody
    said Eddie didn’t have a dick. Then I’ll remember
everybody knew Eddie had a dick but couldn’t see it
    because he was too fat. I’ll think how my Eddie
Tervy poem will go. I’ll wonder what people
    will think when I write about kids in the showers
trying to see Eddie’s dick. Then I’ll wonder
    if I’ll be able to stomach writing my Eddie Tervy
poem, so I’ll start thinking about my banana tree
    poem I’ve been trying to write for weeks,
and how I’m going to show that I’ve been growing
    a banana tree by throwing banana peels
on a weed of a tree, and how I want to say bananas
    don’t grow on trees, but it doesn’t bother me
because I’ve got life jolting through me,
    and until I don’t, I can grow a banana tree.
Then I’ll think people won’t want to hear some psycho
    thinking he can transform an ordinary tree
into a banana tree when there are no goddamn
    banana trees, so I’ll start thinking about my Bible
poem. I’ll want to talk about how stupid I am
    when I continue to label my godmother Mabel
as quality because she gave me a Bible
    bound in supple leather, and how I want to read
the Bible aloud from cover to cover,
    and how I think Stowe got me going
on the whole thing with Tom reading his Bible
    every night after a hard day’s labor,
and how I don’t think I can read the Bible
    like Tom because I’m not a slave.
Then I’ll want to say something about how weird
    I’d feel to pick up a girl some night
and bring her back to my room
    with my Bible shouting beside my bed.




DANIEL SAALFELD's poems have appeared in many journals, including The Hopkins Review, The Southeast Review, The Seattle Review, Cimarron Review, Tampa Review, Tar River Poetry, The South Carolina Review, Poet Lore, and The Pinch. A Fulbright Scholar recipient, he lectured on modern and contemporary American poetry and creative writing in Russia. He teaches creative writing at the George Washington University.



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