#tbt: Joe Wenderoth, “After”

Today’s Throwback Thursday poem is Joe Wenderoth’s “After,” from Disfortune (1995). Wesleyan University Press also published his book It Is If I Speak (2000).

          Wenderoth, Joe 2003 copy       




Knowing then like anyone
only what I know, an unworn body,
the necessity of going on without
myself, going on. I’m almost
alone, save this breath
against the back of your neck.
this arm under your breasts, save
this heart’s beat.
Eyes closed, I’m trying to imagine
the shape of your face,
and there is at last time
for such shapes, there is at last
kept by the weak pulse of others’ voices,
erratic as a weak pulse can be, the sound
of someone I’ll never speak to
lazily hammering in the room above us,
you and I, sleeping and waking, led into
and out of ourselves
by useful violence, precise, now,
now again, the unspoken wholly acceptable
sleep of musics, dying out, dying into
our dullness and wanting nothing more
than to get old there, if that is possible,
to be old
when the moment our faces
is finally allowed.
Old music is the idea of this place,
into which they are leading us away,
these angels, ancestors,
whoever the musicians, in fact,
turn out to be.

JOE WENDEROTH grew up near Baltimore. He graduated with a BA in English/Creative Writing from Loyola College in Baltimore, attended the graduate Creative Writing program at New York University, then transferred to and received an MFA from Warren Wilson College. To pay for food, shelter, and music, he has done and continues to do what he has to do.