Derek Mong

The Second Year

​Like the last house still lit
within a cul-de-sac

you draw the street’s sporadic
light behind your glass

and hold it. Your thoughts, I mean,
they trend effortlessly inward

as less leaves you enamored.
Not long ago I scooped

a bubbled necklace
from your bathtub, or paused

to point out—​see it, caught there
in Sutro Tower’s tongs?—moons

still risen in the morning.
But the surprise of sidewalk stones

has given way to words;
they dull a new thing’s charm,

make room for make-believe
and remembering.

I’ve long dreaded the latter—​
how my impatience

will lodge itself inside
your mind’s dark loam.

Nothing bright from it will thrive.
What faults of mine won’t fester?

In time these words will replace
the man I’ll become, while

the man I’ll become
will replace the one who wrote them.

I feel your eyes upon me
endlessly. I see myself

smoldering inside them.


Derek Mong is the author of two collections from Saturnalia Books, Other Romes (2011) and The Identity Thief (forthcoming, 2018), and the poetry editor at Mantis: A Journal of Poetry, Criticism, & Translation. He recently completed a PhD at Stanford University, writing on marriage in the lives and afterlives of Whitman and Dickinson. A former Axton Poetry Fellow at the University of Louisville and Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, he now lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and son. He has received the Editors’ Choice Prize from the Missouri Review and two Hopwood Awards. New poetry, criticism, and translations have appeared (or will soon appear) in the Kenyon Review, Poetry Northwest, Printer’s Devil Review, Laurel Review, Chariton Review, Lunch Ticket, and the Gettysburg Review. He can be reached at www.derekmong.com.