Five Poems by Stan Sanvel Rubin


Later, love breaks apart
again and you have to try
to pick up the pieces,
even though you know you can’t,
even though you don’t know how.

Trying is a way of learning
what the pieces were in the first place
which matters because
you will see them again.

The consequences of not trying
last forever.


Listening After a Phone Call Has Ended

The space of connectedness is brief
the way time is on a clock

but both are also endless,
a shadow as the profile of a possible world.

Our words touched like lips.
I’m still listening.

In The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows,
this deserves a special place.


Fourth Grade

I never knew what to wear
not to be laughed at.
New kid, I never knew how to make
anyone like me, especially
the girl with auburn hair
who played a violin.
I watched her neck
and dreamed of being picked in baseball
anything higher than last.
But even when I showed them
I could hit a baseball,
they pointed out I wasn’t fast enough
and never would be.
I made two fists and didn’t cry.
The bullies, the games, the girl
were what I had come for.
I was learning being a boy.


Morning Coffee

Every time I think,
this is the time
to bring it up,
and I do, only to myself,

I see a ghost
across the table
reaching for coffee
in a familiar way

I would like
to ask the one
burning question
but I won’t

after all the years
not speaking
words we should speak
decaf or regular.


The best place

to start over
is where you were before.
Only you can’t find it.

Maybe your intentions
have changed
and that’s why.

Maybe it’s no longer
where it was.
How long

does it take
for a world to shift?
How long

can you care,
this lost?


Stan Sanvel Rubin’s poems have appeared in many journals including Agni, Poetry Northwest, Georgia Review, and others recent anthologies include Moving Images: Poems on Film (2021) and the Nautilus award winning, For Love of Orcas (2019). His four full collections include There. Here. (Lost Horse Press) and Hidden Sequel (Barrow Street Book Prize). Born in Philadelphia, he has lived on the north Olympic Peninsula of Washington for over twenty years.

Two Poems by Stan Sanvel Rubin

The Way I Miss You

In daytime when light plays over us
even from this all-gray winter sky,
something else is dancing.

It’s always there, the hidden thing
that makes everything possible.
This is how I miss you.

It isn’t that the moon
slips inside a sleeve of night
and vanishes so that anything I see

is a partial thing defined by darkness.
The universe itself that transmits light
hides in the gravity of darkness.

I don’t miss the light.
I miss the shadow
that was our shadow.


The Sea Is A Grief

Listen to the old accordion
making sad music
with bones and pebbles,
countless secrets
like hidden predators.

The sea grieves for its secrets,
which are those of a small boy
watching the waves rise and fall
from a pier where a horse dives
with a star-spangled rider

into the foamy water
and emerges in front of the boy’s own eyes
still carrying the woman in the wet shining cap
who leads it back to plunge again
from the high pier into the sea.


Stan Sanvel Rubin has poems recently in 2 River, Sheila-na-gig and Aji and has been previously published in Agni, Georgia Review, Poetry Northwest, One and others. His four full collections include There. Here (Lost Horse Press) and Hidden Sequel (Barrow Street Book Prize). He lives on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. He writes essay reviews of poetry for Water-Stone Review.

3 Poems by Stan Sanvel Rubin


Pish-Posh, Pish-Posh,
pebble rain at the window
calls in rhythm

the sound of a name
you have to decipher
to spell it in air.

Each drizzle of water,
each slap of wind
makes the cold inside colder.

It’s the thin signature
of leaving. It’s
the meaning of left.


Regarding Nature

The simple part
is the argument of flesh
we cannot leave behind

except in the world of dreams
where you become any animal
and roam any forest

or jungle or wide plain,
free as the wind
ricocheting off the cliffs,

innumerable scents in the air
under a blood moon,
hunting or hunted.



There’s no reason for the regret I feel
on a beautiful July morning

or if there is, I can’t see it
behind the sun on the leaves,

or the leaves themselves,
sprinkled with Summer.

If it’s out there I can’t find it,
lost like the squirrel that was here

just a minute ago, dancing on the deck
before disappearing into a shrub.

If you want to take this further,
and maybe I have to,

you and I both know that regret
comes with the world, comes with being

in the world, comes with being yourself
in a world you didn’t make and must leave,

whether you want to or not,
the way light leaves the trees,

when all I want to do
is dance.


Stan Sanvel Rubin’s fourth full collection, There. Here., was published by Lost Horse Press, his third, Hidden Sequel, won the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize. Poems in numerous journals including Agni, Georgia Review, Poetry Northwest, Kenyon Review, One, etc. plus two recent anthologies, the 25th Anniversary of Atlanta Review and Nautilus Book Award winner, For Love of Orca. He lives on the north Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.