Sandra Yannone

After the Election, Oakland Burns Down; Reading a Carl Phillips Poem Days after the 2020 Election from an Unread 2002 Issue of the Indiana Review, I Fall in Love, All Over, Again; Rock, Scissors, Paper, the Anniversary Edition, 11 September 2020; Why Law and Order Will Never Be Cancelled: Sandra Yannone

After the Election, Oakland Burns Down

That night, I woke and wept
for liberation

and for a different ghost
ship than usual, one

not sunk this time by ice
and greed,

but extinguished
by smoke and neglect.

I switched on
my bedside lamp

to keep at bay
the lack of light

which is different
than discouraging

the power of the dark.
The dark provokes

dreams. The dark fertilizes
ground. The dark is

my hand combing through
my hair’s unstarried

night. A vote is not
a siren, not a fire

engine screaming
to a find a blaze

in progress.
A vote is a hand

extended after smolder,
after too much

hate, after candidate(s)
said too little, too much,

too late, conflagrates.
I didn’t vote

to slap anyone
in the face. I didn’t vote

to silence a people.
To silence anyone cuts

off the power
to the lights

which, I repeat, is
not the same

as the necessity
to enrich the dark.

Never shut this window
to even a senseless night.

Stay open to the hands
that reach out, look

out for you
like the forest ranger

who lives alone
for months

in the watchtower, under
a single glass bulb

dangling, searching
for the infant fires

before the juniper trees burn
their old growth down.

Reading a Carl Phillips Poem Days after the 2020 Election from an Unread 2002 Issue of the Indiana Review, I Fall in Love, All Over, Again

I know that
litigation is never

the answer, leads
only to satisfaction

delayed, gratification,
the greater good

denied. So what
I crave

now is air

that lacks
viral intensity.

Who knew

I could become

to so much


like Carl Phillips’
syntax, impeccable

and inscrutable, all
at the same

time — and

that which
I’ve come to

love, but never
quite never

apprehend — a feline

roaring always underneath
the cat’s purr,

a claw injected

into the center
of my eye, the moment

I open to morning: a pandemic
shock to my system,

overloaded, waiting
to blow like a glass


You never know
when it, the fuse,

becomes her, or if

she is worthy of such
contemplation. You

want, of course,
to believe

she is, but
what you don’t

know is like
the future

remembered, a shirt

inside out, a kiss
given once, now,

retreating, and you
watching every frame

of her face

pulling away

in slow reverse, while

on your lips
that evaporating,

inappropriate residue,

an ember
of touch —

everything else

the unrequited
reflection of how,

when mitigated, the lines

break exquisitely
into place.


Rock, Scissors, Paper, the Anniversary Edition, 11 September 2020

On the day that the planes torpedoed the sky and ash
ticker-taped the City until someone identified
those zombied alive as inhaling
the remains of the pulverized dead,
on this anniversary of that day, fire plagues
the West on top of a plague. Is today the apocalypse
we always dream of never arriving? My father
betrayed by his own brain thinks so.
Earlier this morning, once again on a cell phone,
he names everything madness as he has managed to do
for months, the dementia scaling the walls
of his brain like flood waters, and he’s the most
lucid of anybody I know. The sun, a round creamsicle
lozenge I would pull down from the sky and swallow
if not for knowing how it would burn
setting inside my throat and rendering me
speechless, and if not September, I’d believe
I was witness to an afternoon’s delight
of winter, the sky a light flouring of snow.
Is this how the first blizzard recorded
snuck up on us, that Crayola sun
beckoning me to come play outside
until I was drenched
in hypothermic chill? Is this how
water tricks one to drown? The Trickster apocalypse
playing everyone for the fool says so,
says don’t believe anyone you cannot
taste. And so I’m left to remember her salt,
her sweet, like I remember the mist
before a downpour, her hair’s five-alarm
deluge all around me, my ability to see
reduced to an afterthought of grace.
This is how horror attends
the masquerade ball dressed as bliss
and why I returned to her
week after weakening week
as she became perfectly round, a winged suffragist
and a cat walking away all at the same unapproving
time. And this sun now a blazed gumdrop behind
a curtain of September’s snow-crusted trees
glows strangest as night prepares to arrive
wearing no mask of snowflakes,
no delusions
of oncoming stars.


Why Law and Order Will Never Be Cancelled

From the radio, a person impersonating a president speaks
to a nation of matchsticks and toothpicks

What I mean to say is a residue of lunch
nags between his teeth

What I mean to say is he embraces decay
like sugar dappled on Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes

What I mean to say is I miss mornings
digging into cereal boxes for plastic prizes

What I mean is I worry about strangers
when I go to sleep

What I mean is that I can’t sleep
and leave Law and Order marathons blaring all night

What I mean is I cannot listen
to anyone pretending to be news

What I mean is I feel sorry
for the bullets in their solitary chambers

What I mean is that shootings are lynchings
without the rope burn and snap

What I mean is around the necks
of Black men

What I mean is history is a smoke
as deadly as any fire that I cannot see

What I mean is I turned
off the radio months ago.

Sandra Yannone’s poems and reviews have found sanctuary in Ploughshares, Poetry Ireland Review, Impossible Archetype, Lambda Literary Review, and elsewhere. Salmon Poetry published her debut collection Boats for Women in 2019 and will publish The Glass Studio in 2022. She hosts Cultivating Voices LIVE Poetry weekly. Visit her at