Poetry by Erich Slimak

Art by Tiff J. Sutton / tiffjtiffsutton.com



Dream Home


Dad dreams about the walk-in cooler, holy 
and secret its open cans of cherries, whole  
boxes of loose chocolate chips. Always 
more vivid than mine, he sees every detail  
of the bakery in ’53. See that picture? That’s all of us 
there, says his peg-legged grandfather, pointing 
to a wall calendar–Baroque Cossacks fording a river.  
That’s your Dad, that’s Harold and John Pristacz, and the one 
with the biggest sword is me. Dad studied their faces,  
their billowing mustaches for the rest of the year.  

He remembers the shop, its work table rubbed 
smooth, splinterless from thirty years of use.  
One oven is set in the wall - black metal poured  
with the building at the turn of the century.  
The other looks like an art deco locomotive. They both open  
for offerings of loaves, mouths ten feet deep and fiery.  
Against the wall are the mixers, tall as grown men, revolving   
bowls the size of armchairs. When he was six,  
Dad dreamed his grandmother fell in naked and rolled  
ecstatic in the wet dough, her mouth a perfect circle.



Dream Home


It’s always around the corner. Last night
I left Chris’ house – which doesn’t exist – turned right  
and there it was, larger than I remember. It always is  
somehow. Presumably my mother and father were inside  
working on a meal or maybe watching a movie, but I woke up 
before I could see. Other times it’s been less itself.
Once, my parents had renovated it beyond recognition,
skylights and open concept rooms. I didn’t care.
I was happy they had somewhere familiar to grow old.
I like going to sleep now. How wonderful to see
all the different ways emptiness can fold itself.



Erich Slimak is a singer, amateur basketball historian, and fifth-generation New Yorker, where he lives with his partner. He received his MFA in Poetry Writing from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he served as Assistant Poetry Editor of NINTH LETTER. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, I-70 Review, The Pinch, and elsewhere.