By Maxine Chernoff

the smiling assassin

isn’t a dream

what is embodied

asks us to listen

beyond rooms

the doctor has scissors

the hour, confessions

a lingering fable

serves up

its ghosts

intention burns

like any ember

(“A Bed on Fire” originally appeared in To Be Read in the Dark (Omnidawn, 2011), and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

Maxine Chernoff is the author of 6 books of fiction and 13 books of poetry, most recently To Be Read in the Dark (Omnidawn), A House in Summer (Argotiste), and Without (Shearsman, forth. 2012). She chairs the Creative Writing Program at SFSU, edits New American Writing, and with Paul Hoover translated The Selected Poems of Friedrich Hoelderlin, which won the 2009 PEN USA Translation Award.

Editor’s Note: Today’s poem reads like a treasure map. Follow the clues to discover what is hidden “beyond rooms;” listen to “what is embodied” and discover the story living in the caverns between words and white space. X marks the spot in which a light bulb burns above you; the riches of language are waiting.

A Note About the Omnidawn Series: Recently I attended a reading of Omnidawn-published poets at New York’s Poets House. The evening was filled with incredible talent and a palpable dedication to the craft of poetry that I wanted to share with you. I am honored that Omnidawn was willing to partner with me for this series, and am thankful to the poets who have agreed to share their work here so that I may help spread the word both about Omnidawn Publishing and about the talented writers they support.

Want to see more by and about Maxine Chernoff?
Omnidawn Reading at City Lights in San Francisco (VIDEO)
“Embedded in the Language” – Washington Post
Shearsman Books

About Sivan Butler-Rotholz

Sivan is the Managing Editor of the Saturday Poetry Series on As It Ought To Be and holds an MFA from Brooklyn College. She is a professor, writer, editor, comic artist, and attorney emerita. She is also the founder of Reviving Herstory. Sivan welcomes feedback, poetry submissions, and solicitations of her writing via email at sivan.sf [at] gmail [dot] com.
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