Sarah Matthes


Sarah Matthes is a poet from central New Jersey. Her debut collection of poetry Town Crier (Persea, 2021) won the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. Poems have appeared or are forthcoming with Pleiades, The Iowa Review, Black Warrior Review, Yalobusha Review,, and elsewhere. Matthes has received support for her work from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Yiddish Book Center, and is the recipient of the 2019 Tor House Prize from the Robinson Jeffers Foundation and the 2019 Andrew Julius Gutow Prize from the Academy of American Poets. She holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers and a BA in English and Creative Writing from Yale University. She serves as the managing editor of Bat City Review, and lives in Austin TX. Source

Lament for the Living

We feel them walking over us in their intolerable shoes,

knocking down our stone doors. And what

would they have us do—come outside?

We will not afternoon among the pigeons,

who loiter like blanched old men in a sauna,

moaning "arrgargahhh" but meaning to say

"shut the door" but meaning "let this day

end me." [


                                                           Overwrought? Yes.

But this is just one tunnel through the story,

and it is not the one that leads to some outside

that is sweet and green. What if we had known

we were in the last five years of our lives?

What a relief! To look around and say

how fine it is, to awaken in the cracked sun,

to knock back a berry into our mouths

like a large and living pill! To have two

and a half years to eat before our time is reset

into a new measure of halfness. And it goes.

For decades we split ourselves across the longing

of an asymptote, until one day we reach down to wipe

and we're putting our hand

                                                           through a ghost.

And then it becomes intolerable. Like fruit salad —

a grape disguised in the juices of a cantaloupe.

We leave behind a dotted line, and all these people!

They follow it like a map to heaven,

when all we meant was "cut here."





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Death & Loss

Joy & Praise

Persona Poems

Literary Devices:


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie


A word that, when spoken aloud, has a sound that is associated with the thing or action being named.

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”