Nathanael Stolte: “New, but Borrowed”



New, but Borrowed

Though I’m in a new, but borrowed, bed
in a strange land
you’ve never been to
I still sleep on only half
the old habitual repetition

I know you’re not coming

and I’m certainly not
saving it for you
or anyone

not saving it at all
not holding intimate space
for anyone in this dating economy

I leave books of poems
and novels there
that I read before dreaming

all the companionship I require

I don’t fix the covers in the morning
never cared much for that

I dream I’m covered in ticks
and they’re hungry
growing fat
and round
and gray and smooth as old river stones
it doesn’t itch
but I can’t scream
because my teeth are old river stones
gray and
as fattened ticks
and my mouth is full of butterflies
and secrets
too subtle to recall
when the sun rises
like bubblegum over
the far pasture
out the spotted plate glass
picture window
creeping at first
then all at once

I’m not covered in parasites
and my teeth are just fillings



About the Author: Nathanael Stolte is an artist and poet from Buffalo, NY. His poems have turned up all over the place. He is the author of several chapbooks and Shoot the Alligators Closest to the Boat (Stubborn Mule, 2019) & Beggar’s Songbook (Spartan Press, 2020). He was an artist in residence at Osage Arts Community in Belle, MO this year where he was making visual art until his plans were interrupted by a mild heart attack. Now he’s staring down the barrel of 40 and living in his mother’s basement.


Image Credit: Russell Lee “Piercing a mattress in tufting. Mattress factory. San Angelo, Texas” (1939) The Library of Congress

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