Ars Poetica

for Ms. P

Because Port Richmond demanded that particular form
of strangeness from every seven-hundred-and-ninth kid.
My luck. Otherwise I’d be sentenced to beers and smoke
with the misfits under the Bayonne Bridge, blurred and
waiting for Jon-Jon Gramino to jump into the river with
a millstone chained to his break-up heart. (I was there
anyway.) And because every aching adolescent night Bob
Dylan sang through my older brother’s closed bedroom
door and I said, Wait, you can even say that? and Dylan
answered by saying it even stranger. And because one
stuffy classroom afternoon under the abstracted influ-
ence of naked songs and death by love, I finally wrote my
risk in words, and my English teacher’s head tipped after
I finished reading, and her eyes waited for mine to lift
and she said, slowly, even a little sexily, read that again,

Steven Ostrowski is a poet, fiction writer, painter and teacher. His work appears widely in literary journals, magazines and anthologies, most recently in The American Journal of Poetry, New Delta Review, and Lily Poetry Review. He is the author of five published chapbooks—four of poems and one of stories. He and his son Ben are authors of a full-length collaboration called Penultimate Human Constellation, published in 2018 by Tolsun Books. His chapbook, After the Tate Modern, won the 2017 Atlantic Road Prize and is published in 2018 by Island Verse Editions.