Poetry: Reaching Into the Bottom of My Breath by Sam Pittman

Sonnets are the perennial form because within the fourteen lines is a universe of choices. Sam Pittman’s new poem makes these choices with grace, guiding the reader’s breath with such maturity that the final couplet easily takes it away.


Reaching Into the Bottom of My Breath

reaching into the bottom of my breath
to find what lingers there—a shell
drained of ocean static, a name with several
letters removed. i’m always spelling something

i’ve never heard of, like the language
of skin that hasn’t been spoken, or grammar
made of hands over the hairs that trace
a quiet cursive. a lot can be learned

when you’re young and keep your flicker voice
down: at what angle a neck must bend
to allow for noiseless air, how long
the breath can be held before someone comes

to steal what’s left to breathe, what name
you could have made from what wave remains.



Sam Pittman

Sam Pittman is the author of Mostly Water, which won the 2016 Rane Arroyo Chapbook Prize from Seven Kitchens Press. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in such journals as Grist, Bellevue Literary Review, Newfound, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, West Wind Review, Sixfold, and The Good Men Project. Sam received an MFA in Writing from the University of Pittsburgh, and holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. Sam lives and teaches writing in Pittsburgh, PA.

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