Poetry: Night Logic by Matthew Gellman
A site of history and a landscape once marred by violence is reimagined with a gesture towards gentleness in Gellman’s poem. ‘Night Logic’ begins its readers at the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard but then cracks open the world so quietly one can “hear the whole planet”.
The day a boy was discovered
roped to a fence, his body an emblem
of aching, the cyclist who found him there
mistook him for a scarecrow,
so pistol-whipped and transfigured by blood
his Wyoming face, his blonde fingers
still moving, trying to catch
the modicum of breeze.
To be queer is to be questioned
on the way your breathing
displaces light. The way you lilt
or stutter. The way a cigarette learns
to bleed from your hand. I was that boy’s age
when a man tried to follow me home
in the clapboard college town
where I made submersible
in the weave of roots next to
a crippled fence. According to gestalt theory
the whole is greater than the sum
of its parts. One light tapped on
on the railroad track
becomes all the lights interrupting
the cold. By this night logic
a boy jumps over a fence
or a boy gets bound to a fence
and there is only an aperture of dead grass
to determine the difference.
The man searches but he cannot find me
and stumbles down the mess
of the alley. I keep my head low
and wait for the morning to steady.
So quiet I hear the whole planet.
A boy is a galaxy shoved underwater.
A moon with a fork in its sternum.
A boy is a star in the stratosphere
blinking like something that could be extinguished.
Matthew Gellman is a queer poet living in Brooklyn. His chapbook, Night Logic, was selected by Denise Duhamel as the winner of Tupelo Press' 2021 Snowbound Chapbook Award and is forthcoming from Tupelo Press. Matthew's poems are featured or forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Narrative, Indiana Review, The Common, Ninth Letter, The Missouri Review, Lambda Literary's Poetry Spotlight and elsewhere. A recipient of a Brooklyn Poets fellowship and an Academy of American Poets prize, Matthew was also awarded the Adroit Journal's Djanikian Scholarship in 2020, and his manuscript, "Beforelight," was a finalist for Tupelo Press' 2019 Berkshire Prize, for Four Way Books' 2020 Levis Prize, and for the 2020 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize. Matthew currently works in elder care and teaches creative and critical writing at Hunter College and the Fashion Institute of Technology.