Simon Schuchat

Four Poems from Blue Skies

Volume 17:1, Winter 2016
Some Of Us Press Issue

Blue SkiesThe Autumn Wastes

With you it’s still the strong
uncertainty of moonlight.
I could walk around for seventy
years, in or out of the sun, my
mouth handing you little chunks
of meaning, hanging open in
the wind, like a lamp that needs
someone around all the time.
The moon probably isn’t even
out. You’re sleeping somewhere.

Winter in New York

Waiting for time to pass, writing poems, expecting
Andrea at about four. It’s quiet. Except for
the radio, the typewriter, and my coughing as I
smoke a cigarette. Richard is asleep in the next
room of his apartment. He didn’t sleep last
night at all, laughing and printing a broadside.
My book is almost finished. A dog barks on the
street below. I can’t see very far in the water
which is a different way of describing fog. What
have I heard on the radio today? “These are the
Good Old Days” by Carly Simon, which someone
was putting down as boring while sitting in
a Jewish restaurant last night. I just got a
drink of water from the refrigerator. Everything
is absorbed in the green calm of soft sleep,
although Richard is the only person asleep,
and I can’t see anything concrete that could be
described as green. That’s why I want to be
a painter. “How can I tell you I love you,” asks
the radio. Very simply. Turn toward me, smile,
and say
“I love you.” Smile when you say that, pardner.

A Few Words About Myself

I love to watch the children dying.
Observe, beyond this superior nostalgia,
a massive wave of laughter. Even though
I’ve been reading The Book of the Coffin
in the library of the streets, I am still
Midnight fingers me with wet hands,
rips down the church, rains on the walls.

Imagine! I saw Jesus get off the cross, slush
kissing the robe that flew
away in the rain.
Right now I’m screaming at you stones,
stabbing these words into the mush of sky above:
My father!
At least be nice and stop beating on me!
That’s my blood spilling all over that dark road!
That’s my soul over there, in pieces of ripped up
cloud against a burnt-out sky on the rusty
cross in the tower!
Will you at least paint my face
As something extraordinary from these days!
Because I’m as lonely as the only eye in a blind

Last Words

She loves me
she loves me not
I wring my hands
throw away fingers
letting the empty petals
drift in spring
I’ve got gray hairs
they show up when I shave
I’m not ashamed


Note: “A Few Words About Myself” and “Last Words” are based on poems by Vladimir Mayakovsky.


Simon Schuchat (1954 - ) was raised in DC, and made the acquaintance of Michael Lally and the Mass Transit poets at age 15, becoming the youngest author published by Some Of Us Press when his book, Blue Skies, was released in 1973. He attended the University of Chicago and published the journal Buffalo Stamps before moving to New York in 1975 and becoming part of the St. Mark’s downtown writing scene and becoming associated with the third generation of New York School poets. Schuchat was also directly involved in small press publishing; he edited the 432 Review and founded Caveman. His poetry titles include: At Baoshan (Coffee House Press, 1987), Light and Shadow (Vehicle Editions, 1977), and All Shook Up (Fido Productions (1977). From 1978 to 1981, he taught at Fudan University in Shanghai, then studied East Asian Studies at Yale and Harvard. He was a State Department Foreign Service Officer for over twenty-five years, from 1985 to 2011, serving in Beijing, Moscow, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and other places. He has translated poetry and prose from Mandarin and Russian into English, including works by Lu You and D.A. Prigov. His translation of Chinese poet Hai Zi's verse play "Regicide" was recently published in Hong Kong.