Laurel Snyder



Just there


There are some things
in the world. Not about
it, or your head all cloudy.

There are some things
you just can't just slap
an old farmhouse onto.

Some things soup won't
wash away. Or a highway.
Some things are just there.

This is why I invented bed
and tomorrow and beer
battered onion rings.

Everything counts
sheep. Everything
fights a battle and loses.

You have to give up
at least once each day
to be a person

If you don't close your
book you won't ever.
You won’t ever.



Elegy for the fair


You used to be able.
To run away is to be lost.

Now, there is something.
Everywhere, in every corner.

Not dust, but thinking words.
Speaking with people.

And purpose in every unturned.
Freight car and hitchhike, dead.

Now, with the empty filled.
With classified ads in each pocket.

It is harder than that.
To flee, to fly, to lose.

Yourself in the circus.
Yourself in the fair of colors.

Each color has a name.
Each fortune-teller is a skeptic.

You are a skeptic, know "better."
The fortune tellers are dying.

Because they have been wrong.
The clowns are unfunny.

Once, in New York, rain.
Out went the fair, lights.

And there I was in wet, in magic.
With an old man who had a game.

Some balls and bottles and prizes.
Nobody wanted anymore.

The world was unimpressed and the rain.
Was going to keep on.

And the man was not a carnie.
Anymore the world is too smart.

Purpose means many things.
What we have lost has not always fled us. 




It’s only natural


The little girl pulling the puppy’s tail

Should stop her pulling. No amount

Of force exerted will turn the puppy

Inside out, or into a skylite snowball,

Which is what she really really wants.

Even if she doesn’t know the words yet.


When I slap her, her mother looks at me.

Good mother. Bad me. The little girl

Was being a naughty, but I was worse.

The mother was being a mother. Good

Mothers sneer at people who touch kids.

I slap people who tug on tiny puppies.


I just like puppies, and slapping people.

I can’t really help myself sometimes.

I mean—this time I probably could’ve,

but so often I can’t, so what’s the use in

sometimes—when the rest of the time,

I’m killing things, the ants and plants, me.



The Horse

after reading Dubie in an airport


Lena holds a sleeping cat, which has been

given something—sleep—and is inside a box.


Lena has been given something—

a box to watch that doesn’t move.

She won’t leave her box for the world,

which has been given something—

Lena, a girl who sits still.


Only the world doesn’t know it.

Even as she chews her lip, tries not to blink.

Even as she listens for her mother.

Even as she holds her knees rigid,

rests her hand lightly on the box, fingers

an airhole. This is serious shit.


Lena will never see the airport.

She has a box to watch. Planes arrive,

depart. People grumble and eat around her

from greasy bags. People sleep around her,

pushed and angled into strange spaces.

Lena won’t sleep, watching


for the cat to wake up. It might

be dead, you know. Things die

sometimes. Lena chews her lips bloody.

Her knees cramp. The world doesn’t notice.

The cat sleeps on. The horse whinnies. Where—


did that horse come from? Outside

the box. From outside the box.