Matthew Olzmann


Matthew Olzmann (?-present) is a mixed race poet from Detroit, Michigan. He received his BA from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and an MFA from Warren Wilson College. Olzmann is the author of the collections Mezzanines and Contradictions in the Design and currently teaches at Dartmouth College and MFA program at Warren Wilson College. Source

Letter to a Cockroach, Now Dead and Mixed Into a Bar of Chocolate

Regulations allow for, on average, sixty insect fragments

per hundred grams of chocolate

in America. You are pulverized.

The thorax, the head, the legs that no longer twitch.

Invisible and milk-smooth. 

Nothing harbors a secret like sweetness.


Centuries ago, on the open sea, the Sirens understood

this statute. Each sank their knowledge

inside a voice of chimes and kisses,

hiding the ocean’s stone teeth

in a mouth of mist and foam.


Yesterday, waves beat against a dock in Brazil.

The quick bodies of you and your buddies

quivered across the cargo of cacao beans.

You couldn't possibly comprehend: the beans

on their way to the grinder, just as those ancient sailors

couldn’t envision—beyond the Sirens' music—

the broken mast, the shattered hull. 


Today is Valentine's Day. I walk to the store

to buy a box of chocolates for my wife.

As I walk, I have no idea whose hands

made the shoes that hug my feet,

or why the produce at the super market

glows like numbers on the stock exchange. 


There is sweetness in this world,

but it has a price. You are the price.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Poetic Form

Science & Climate

Literary Devices:


(of a literary work) in the form of letters


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing


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