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

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.

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