George Yatchisin







A Reading


“We find the body difficult to speak.”

–Jack Spicer


My best poem would have no words

but now I am writing.

Vacant at the mike she eyed over

the crowd, letting love lap in—

what a room of listeners can do for you.

While her work was like

truth in its kimono at dawn, colors in full light,

I could only latch on to one word,

as she twice misspoke “epitaph” for “epigraph,”

as if such gist, a hard-felt coming or going,

deserved merely a name.

There are numerous words one must weigh out like change,

that jingle on the tongue’s pocket

the way love tumbles

about us so much. My friend,

who had loved her alone but not for long,

he had to watch her words, the right and wrong,

leave lips his had touched. But no more for that.

Instead, he had to watch her with another,

watch hands at backs like fingers

at a typewriter, the alphabet

broken to keep favored keys from crashing,

and the first words coming slow.

That may be why we’re so eager to get in bed

with others, to hear one truth in silence,

to settle into that clatter of nothing.

That may be how she didn’t misspeak,

sensing words are for endings, epitaphs

when nothing else is left to say.




Auto Safety


Words, yes, them again. They’re always between

  1. And there’s no real need to mention love.

It waits on street-corners with four-way stops.

No one will give love a ride—they know.

It’s funny how strangers always want to

be friends, just to change their names, just to see

the four-speed transmission of your smile find

a new gear that’s then theirs. It’s all they want.

Until they want more—loose change, a brown button,

something like love. And unknown, it’s hiding

in the back seat, holding the lighter in.

Everyone’s in an unrecalled Pinto

when fate strikes for what must be the last time,

surely, until something else happens.




More Than Anyone Cares to Hear about Cashews


So I followed the link

to the “list of culinary nuts” but

it wasn’t as bitchy fun as I’d hoped.


It did lead to the mystery

of the cashew, which dangles

from its fruit like an appendix,

something waiting to be removed.

Poor pseudo-fruit, the actual cashew apple,

in Central American called the marañón,

shaped more like a pear, anyway,

its nut protrudes from it

like a tilde off an “n.”


The locals brew that easy bruising fruit

into a spirit, sweet, but not so much

you don’t want more.


Of course we’re in it for the nuts.

In consumerland they come clean,

shorn of the shell that’s kin to sumac

and rich with noxious oils that sicken

at as much as a touch. So for you,

others will roast them, outdoors,

hoping for their cents an hour

to avoid the acrid smoke.


What work this takes you think and

devour another, salt on your tongue

like Portuguese tan and fat,

roasting on a beach in Goa.












George Yatchisin is the Communications Coordinator for the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at UC Santa Barbara and the author of the chapbook Feast Days (Flutter Press 2016). His poems have been published in numerous journals including Antioch Review, Askew, and Zocalo Public Square. He is the co-editor of the anthology Rare Feathers: Poems on Birds & Art, and his work appears in the anthologies Clash by Night and Buzz. He has a MFA from the University of Iowa and a MA from the Johns Hopkins University.


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