I am the first to step over the threshold of the apartment
and I am the first to firmly close its front door.
It has two rooms stacked one on top of the other:
one painted the color of a Tiffany gift box,
one painted the dead skin of a band-aid.
The stranger who shares the wall behind my bed
snores. His head is so close to mine. Sometimes,
after the sun sets, he plays
three bad guitar chords
then sets the instrument down.
In the morning his phone
vibrates under his pillow, against the wall.
There is another version of the song.
I have proof. The most important thing
is that it have edges, that it begins and ends
with you. It’s like if you wear the right coat
it provides boundaries to your being
on the sidewalk, on the subway, and
no one will fuck with you.
There is another version of the song,
and at the end of it no one loses their mind.
When I sing in the shower, I realize,
someone now must hear me.
I was born because I exist. I was born
because he gives me strange looks
when we pass in the laundry room.
He knows who I am by the noises I make
that I don’t know I make. Not
by my face or any part of my body.
New land, land no one has before trod.
In the kitchen, I unpack the dishes and cups
carefully. It takes me a long, long time.
Stephen Sollins. Static 10, 2007 (Detail). Ink on printed television schedules. Courtesy of the artist.
Lauren Clark’s first collection of poems, Music for a Wedding, was selected by Pulitzer Prize-winner Vijay Seshadri for the 2016 AWP Donald Hall Prize in Poetry. It will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2017. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Michigan, where she served as an InsideOut Literary Arts Writer-in-Residence in Detroit Public Schools. She works as Program & Development Coordinator at Poets House in New York City and collaborates with Etc. Gallery in Chicago.
Stephen Sollins holds a BA in Photography from Bard College and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts. He is a recipient of grants and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The New York Foundation for the Arts, and Smack Mellon. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums including the Brooklyn Museum, The Drawing Center, and Mitchell-Innes and Nash in New York, and is part of public and private collections including The Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, among others. His work is represented in New York by Pavel Zoubok Gallery and in San Francisco by Brian Gross Fine Art.