Poem of the Week | February 21, 2022

This week’s Poem of the Week is “There’s a Man on the Subway Writing I’m Sorry Inside a Pizza Box with a Yellow Magic Marker” by Corey Zeller!

Corey Zeller is the author of MAN VS. SKY (YesYes Books, 2013) and YOU AND OTHER PIECES (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2015) . His work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Colorado Review, Indiana Review, Gulf Coast, Puerto del Sol, Mid-American Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Diagram, Salt Hill, West Branch, Third Coast, BOMB Magazine, Ninth Letter, The Rumpus, PEN America, Academy of American Poets, Denver Quarterly, The Southeast Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Verse Daily, Copper Nickel, North American Review, Washington Square Review, among others.


There’s a Man on the Subway Writing I’m Sorry Inside a Pizza Box with a Yellow Magic Marker

Having you was a problem. Having you in a yellow Datsun stuck in a snowdrift. Having you through rehab and expulsions and divorces. Yet here you are, asking to bum a cigarette from your mother after getting fired from yet another job. You wish you had something to give her other than your rambling; your good mornings like red skies and hooves shuffling down chalky cliffs away from wolves; your “can I use the ironing board” while you hold your wrinkled shirt like a white flag. You wish you could give her a pizza box with “I’m sorry” written inside it like the one you saw on the internet but you can’t afford a pizza. When you were a kid, she bought you a telescope. She said: “The best way to look at a faint star is not right at it, not with the center of the eye, but just to one side.” Maybe this is why she never looks at you anymore. You look down at your hands and see they’re dimming, blinking, astral. “When you were born,” your mom says watching TV, “you were the exact size of my palm.” “When you were born,” she says, “you were the exact weight of someone else’s heart.”


Author’s Note

I have the most loving and supportive mother in the world. When I read the poem to her, she just kept laughing at how sad and pathetic it was. She just kept laughing. It’s good we’ve gotten to that point. She kept laughing and I started laughing too.