Poetry by S. Brook Corfman

Image by Kari Varner / karivarner.com

From “Luxury, Blue Lace”


I am trying to research trying
to add to my drawer filled with fabric scraps high
up on a chain with no more room
the wood magnetizes
some paper sticks to it

It’s sealed with time only I know
how to open with crowbars and impact
from a high height
fucking a boy who can love
to read me aloud again incorrectly

I deal in crises with my equivalents
for tears this is something different some sandpaper
to take to the box and play the long game like sawdust
in my lungs secondhand smoke mixing with air
only when someone breathes me

the privacy of being entered

I do not borrow
because I will always return and sadly
I will knock to be let in
while I wait pluck that scrap
of purple gauze its drift


Davide says we’re in a narratocracy
and I’m inclined to agree.

If I tell you the story I’ll ruin it;

I don’t remember this story to tell it, if it’s a story.

You’ve learned at least this much without a proper sequence:
a young child, desperation, a twin brother,

how a child chooses a form

but only after is told what his options were.

That the soul got to choose. Nothing else
got to but the soul
got to choose
What does it take to know yourself?
Does it take a narrative, a losing
of some things so others might be legible?It takes.

Think of a room
you can move around in, that you might return to

to remind yourself which chair was what shade of blue

but where you’re never sure someone hasn’t repainted it

in the meantime.
Sometimes there’s a smaller room in the wall

at this child’s eye-level, in which to hide.

There is no story here, only movement, only you
moving, only moving


(2/8) This doll during the drought, thick-knit blankets on horses and sturdy boots. This doll a dark head of hair grandmother will brush, will come over and ask to do so. She has a small standing desk, and what a beautiful desk it is, would be, if child-sized. She gets lost in the rain, carried across the state line. Child is always correcting the pronunciation of her name, always deferring to her, thinks of her as the model.(7/8) The porcelain doll comes with a bed, she sleeps the days away, dust like vines overgrowing her, matching at first the patterned outline on her headboard before exceeding it.

(3/8) A doll from a field, green wild grass and small yellow wildflowers, red-haired, two-dimensional. She arrives in pieces, fabric, cotton puffs, yarn, thread. Grandmother spins a figure, could be anyone’s, makes a dress, becomes of this a small-mouthed favorite who keeps losing her wig in the tussle.

(5&6/8) For a time, child wants a doll to be as he might one day. One doll had limited options, ends up sparkling ever since in a skirt bought for a new year’s party long after the year has begun, next to a closet full of what child wants to wear, what he buys for her but never wants to see her happy in. The other doll is sent off for with a photograph. It returns turned eighteen inches with rounder cheeks and an ugly maroon sweater, not enough fantasy, all pained reminders of proximity. The tallest and unmoved, she watches over the other dolls from her reliable corner.

[A doll that was wanted, but thirty-eight inches do not fit on the shelf behind the door never slid away. A crinoline, a crown. Child would not have looked like her anyway. Mother says, “wanted her desperately.”]

(4/8) Rose, flower-named, lost in an imagination. She rides a horse, attends a masquerade ball. Though child will do these things in time they will be less glamorous. Rose comes with a key to lock up the attic, keep the imagination inside and alone. It cannot even make its way down to the landing.

(8/8) The last of the dolls, a blue mermaid beaches too late and stranded. The tide has gone out, and out, and out, and out. The pouch of small shells trembles shyly beside the transparent globe, the gold-backed hand mirror. It is the only token to have touched a doll and been displayed.

(1/8) A teddy bear, a first doll, a boy and the only one.



Tulle and taffeta rust, left alone.
Even on land they attract sharks.
Dear one, rags are unbecoming
unless you want them there. Tell me
how to read them like the dregs
of everyday earl grey, how to find
that soloist’s fouetté in the scraps.



S. Brook Corfman is a poet who writes plays, living in a turret in Pittsburgh. A recipient of fellowships from Lambda Literary and the University of Pittsburgh who has also been published as Sam Corfman, work has appeared or will soon in Phantom, Prelude, Ghost Proposal, Winter Tangerine, and OmniVerse, among other places.