3 poems by Tamar Yoseloff

    Train at Night in the Desert

    Charcoal dark. Nothing to see but twin ghosts

    of your face in safety glass, the man opposite

    upholstered in thick fibres of slumber.

    You’re pulled by a faith

    in steel. The train is a lung breathing dust

    as it huffs to a black dot on the map:

    a bug stuck on its back, giggly legs flailing in air.

    Out there, the coyote keeps its secrets,

    it has its own line of action.

    It doesn’t give a shit about your plans.

    Nephritic Sonnet

    I wear an oxygen moustache, hating the cold

    creep of air into my lungs, but the nurse says

    I must keep breathing. I watch the slow clock

    of blood through the IV tube, my insides out,

    on display, my ‘fluid being’, my ‘wine of life’ –

    but why would I try to make a poem of this?

    I’m nothing more than a few sheets clipped

    to a board, my bodily functions monitored

    in words that doctors register above my head.

    There’s no poetry in the hospital gown, worn

    thin from the rub of skin, or the urine stench

    or how a person dies, without elegy or dirge,

    on the other side, just a curtain between us


    We maroon ourselves

    on tiny plots, worlds

    shrunk to fit. Our terrain

    is difficult, our waves

    choppy. We have few

    natural resources, we live

    on what we forage,

    hoard air and water.

    We grow turf, hide

    in the long grass

    so no one can find us,

    develop thousand-yard

    stares, our eyes fixed

    on the horizon, waiting

    for a ship that never docks,

    the off-island always beyond

    reach, always in sun,

    like a gem behind glass.

    We put seas between us,

    we won’t be rescued.


    Tamar Yoseloff’s sixth collection, 'The Black Place', will be published by Seren in October 2019. She’s also the author of 'Formerly', with photographs by Vici MacDonald, shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award; and editions with artists Linda Karshan and Charlotte Harker respectively. She’s a lecturer on the Poetry School / Newcastle University MA in Writing Poetry.