White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
Paul Nemser's poems have appeared in a number of magazines, among them Antioch Review, Barrow Street, Pequod, Poetry, and TriQuarterly. Poems from his book-length sequence, Taurus and Europa in St. Petersburg, have been published in Horizon and will be forthcoming in Fulcrum this fall and in Arion (a twenty-page section) this winter. He lives in Cambridge, MA.
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Paul Nemser



In another hour,

fog annihilates the world.

For now, the nearer streets


end in a gray-green sea.

North End roofs,

as if built from mirrors,


reflect at odd angles

what’s left of the light.

But sound is the only


sense that matters,

if sense matters at all

to the symmetry,


green glass blocks,

a sky rent by a shadow gull,

its unheard call.




Paul Nemser

Burrs of construction,

beeps of backing up,

catch in muffled night.


The city is too chilled

to shudder, or fly.

Everything built today


will be spit out tomorrow,

and shake off the seaweed,

and prophesy.

Paul Nemser



The future was a smear on the map of the pole,

but the wagons did not stop coming.

They were loaded with grain and cornhusks,

fish wearing beards of ice.

They carted apples the color of pinpricks,

and timber still trembling from its fall.

The road wound so long, through country so harsh

that any softness of a cloud about to thunder

was wool of a new-shorn lamb;

the muted violence of rapids from afar

was the murmuring of lungs.

Farmers had to argue long, like a fever

that seared the forehead, bubbled the eyes

till the last wheatberry dried to a ghost

under cloud stretched

to hints and whispers.

Much was forgotten, and the rest was chaff.

The rest was a rising of wind in ears,

a scent of red mushrooms.

Everyone dreaming of shocked light,



Paul Nemser

transformations of the troubled heart,

and breadless breakfasts as the earth revolves,

till that edgy shaky earthquake of a day

when they faced north,

and north was an enemy.

“Don’t touch me, cold one,”

they said among the pines

above the frozen feet of the frozen wisps

that were smoke when the world was new.

That was when I saw you,

on foot and winged as an angel

who began by a palm in a dry moment,

the smear of pistachio crushed in your eyes.

Dates on your lips, you glided my way,

in sealskin and cradling a zither.

Black lambswool hair, and spidery hands,

and you strummed,

and we leapt without slipping.






Copyright © Paul Nemser. White Whale Review, issue 1.1

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