Two Poems by Matt Mason

Why We Cry | Matt Mason

You came into this world
with your eyes wide open,

which I didn’t think babies were supposed to do,
but you

have always been a little different, your cheeks
bigger than heartbeats,

your heart
a harvest moon wide across skies.

Your mom and I just drove you three hours
to move you into a dorm room—

away from us, not a camp,
not a trip with your aunt,

we have to fill out forms now and get your signature
to help you if you get sick,

there’s a new address
if we want to reach you.

It’s an unrecognizable world,
an unrecognizable house,

no mugs with dry tea bags stuck inside them
left on random spaces like clues to a mystery,

no guitar played soft from your room at night,
sketches scattered on tables, it

doesn’t sound like a lot of weight, but,
without it, this house

drifts on its foundation, bends
in the wingbeats of hummingbirds outside,

it feels like if I were to stop crying,
teardrops like sandbags,

this home
would float


Poem in Celebration of My Death | Matt Mason

There’s a statue of Saint Francis
outside my window. Frank,
as I call him, wears a sparrow on one sleeve
though he stares not at that small marvel
but out at the trees: the peach
that I planted, out
to the woods beyond, oak and maple
and sumac and cedar and honeysuckle,
beautiful labels that try to excuse some of them
for their invasiveness, their non-nativeness.
Frank is non-native here.
I, also, am an invasive species.
I hang on, making up names
for the trees, the birds, for ornamental concrete decorative holiness.
Forgive me, Frank,
for the pathways I wear into these woods, you
disappear under vines,
invite the landscape in to warm you,
I don’t yet have
that kind of confidence, but
I get closer every day, grow
into a new

About the Author:

Matt Mason has run poetry workshops in Botswana, Romania, Nepal, and Belarus for the U.S. State Department and his poetry has appeared in The New York Times. Matt is the Nebraska State Poet and has received a Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Nebraska Arts Council. His work can be found on NPR’s Morning Edition, in American Life in Poetry, and in several hundred other publications. Mason’s 5th book, Rock Stars, will be released by Button Poetry in September, 2023. His website is: