Cover by Omer Kursat

American Crabgrass
(Two Seas Volume I)
Michael Sanders

ISBN 978-1944521028, October 16, 2016
Softcover, 42 pages, 7 x 10 in.


Pluck each word off with your teeth
like a plump sweet grape
see how it feels in your mouth

let it burst and flood your lips your tongue
let its dark fragrant juice run down your chin
stain your shirt
your heart.

“How to Eat a Poem”, Michael Sanders
West Palm Beach, May 8, 2015

Sanders himself, for this poet—like Edward Arlington Robinson or Robert Frost—is busily and cleverly trying out voices, exploring the experience, pain, and isolation of others, in order to gain a better perspective on what we share as human beings in this new millennium.

— from the preface by Mark Scroggins, author of The Poem of a Life


So, here I am
just sitting here, cruising
for the most part smoothly
at about 29,000 feet
somewhere probably over Georgia.
Then heres this chicken
about two weeks ago
just sitting there, feeling
for the most part pretty peachy-keen
about hanging around all day
getting fed, doing
nothing in particular.

So, here I am
about to plunge
into my chicken sandwich
white meat, breast.
And then I notice sitting there, next
to me this thin neat dark-haired
woman, attractive, about my age
sipping Diet Coke from
one of those clear plastic cups
when the intercom breaks in with
the captains

Poetry in the twenty-first century, in the wake of modernism’s stylistic experiments, the postwar “confessional” poets, and the sometimes inescapable navel-gazing of the MFA industry, seems particularly inhospitable to narrative. Michael Sanders is content to swim against this tide. While Sanders has written some lovely personal lyrics, and while he has carefully and thoughtfully pressed at the limits of some familiar forms, experimenting with variations on the sonnet, the prose poem, and various rhymed structures, the heart of his work lies in telling stories about people other than the poet himself. Mark Scroggins


Two guys are walking down the street when one of them says “My wife doesn’t love me” just as they pass the detonation point.

A few steps later the other guy asks for help lighting his cigarette, both of his arms blown off in the explosion. “How can you tell?” he asks after a long exhalation of yellowish-white smoke.

The first guy steps over a headless torso covered with spaghetti and red wine that has just been hurled out of the restaurant by the force of the blast. “She isn’t tender to me anymore” he says. “Like the way her body goes stiff when I kiss her or the way she folds her arms across her chest when I try to hold her.”

Although his voice is trembling a little, he has to speak louder now that the ambulances and fire-trucks are beginning to arrive. “Mostly though, I guess it’s her not caring what’s important to me, not really. Deep down I mean.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much” says the second guy. His leather shoes are making crunching sounds on the shattered glass and small body parts. “I went through the same thing a couple of years ago” he continues breathing in deeply on his cigarette mixed with black oily smoke, the smell of warm food and blood ballooning from the restaurant.

They have to weave as they walk in order to avoid being knocked over by the firemen and rescue workers who are racing into the scorched building trying to locate survivors.

“How did you get through it?” asks the first guy; the deep wound at the base of his neck is bleeding heavily now. “Mostly I just went to work every day. I lived with the pain and eventually it began to seem normal. You know, for marriage to work, one person’s got to love the other one more; you can only play by one set of rules.”

“Is that right?” softly smiles the first guy who is beginning to feel a little better. Still, tears are stinging his eyes. He feels as if his life is over.