Sam Sax


Sam Sax is a queer, jewish, poet & educator. They're the author of Bury It (winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American poets) and Madness (winner of the National Poetry Series). They're the two time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion with poems published in The New York Times, Poetry Magazine, Granta, Buzzfeed and elsewhere. They've received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, and Lambda Literary. Currently living in Oakland California, and working at a used bookstore, they'll be a lecturer at Stanford University this Fall. Source

First Will and Testament

i look to history to explain & this is my first mistake

when i say history i mean the stone

half-buried by the roadside has witnessed

more tragedy than a filthy glass of a water. i look to the water

but all i see is dust. i look to the dust & all there is

is history. here’s a feather & well of blood

to write the labor movement across the fractal

back of infrastructure. here’s a father leaving home

to build railroads with his bare hands. write the laws

that claw the eyes from owls, that build a wall

between the river & the thirsty, that drag families

from one hell into the next. o this house of mine

was built by men & o i, a man sometimes, pass

through its acid chambers & leave out the backdoor

dust. when i say history i mean what lives in us,

i mean the faux gold chain around my neck,

the diseases passed from generation to generation

dating back to a time before christ, i mean any word

traced to its origin is a small child begging for water.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Memory & The Past

Literary Devices:


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

Internal Rhyme

A rhyme involving a word in the middle of a line and another at the end of the line or in the middle of the next.


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing