Brian Tierney


Brian Tierney is the author of Rise and Float, winner of the 20-2021 Jake Adam York Prize (Milkweed, forthcoming Feb. 2022). His poetry and prose have appeared in such journals as Paris Review, Kenyon Review, AGNI, NER, The Adroit Journal, and others. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and a graduate of the Bennington College MFA Writing Seminars, he was named among Narrative Magazine’s 2013 “30 Below 30” emerging writers, and is winner of the 2018 George Bogin Memorial Award from The Poetry Society of America. Raised in Philadelphia, he lives in Oakland, Ca., where he teaches poetry at The Writing Salon. Source 

You're the One I Wanna Watch the Last Ships Go Down With

   for Jess


Dr. Redacted will tell me not to tell you

this, like this,

in a poem: how it’s all right, love, that we don’t love

living. Even actors don’t

exactly love the spotlight they move through,

as your sister, the actor,

has told us; they just need to be lit

for narrative motion

to have meaning. As such it is,

with artifice, and embarrassment,

that I move through fear

to you, tonight, where I had dreams,

a short nap ago, about lines

of poetry I struck through

with everyday blues, month after

month, in the dream,

after dream; an attempt

I guess to forget, if I could: defeat

sometimes is defeat

without purpose. The news at least tells me that

much. I know now,

in fact, we don’t have to be brave,

not to survive a night

like any we’ve looked on

together, seeing blue-tinted snow

once in a K-mart

parking lot’s giant, two-headed lamp—

and my father hooked up,

up the street, with no chance

of waking—as many years ago now

as how much longer I’ve lived

with you than without. 

Forgive me, again, that I write you an elegy

where a love poem should be.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Death & Loss

Love & Relationships

Literary Devices:


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work

Interrupted Clause

a word group (a statement, question, or exclamation) that interrupts the flow of a sentence and is usually set off by commas, dashes, or parentheses