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Weekly Poem: ‘Poem in Which I Fail to Appear’

By Sarah Perrier

I’m not in there, or if I am you cannot see me. I’m hidden
behind the cowboy whose swagger suggests he’s all hat,
no cattle. The boozy banker in the brown pinstripe

has taken my chair, and the server has swept away all trace
of the glass I sipped my whiskey from. Look for me pinned
beneath the bar-chord callused hands of some young thing

or in the single stray hair knotted through his rough, shadowed
attitude — a two-day beard and the unlit cigarette he blames
for his stagy smokers’ growl. Ask him where he found me,

or try to remember yourself where you lost the last lover
you found — under your thumb, behind your back, back together
again with the cook who kept the kitchen hotly ticking. Send

a waitress to check under the stall doors in the Ladies’, keep
one eye on the lonely curb-parked cabbie who closed his book
and winked when you jumped at the flash of his FOR HIRE sign.

Catch him if you can. Look for me on his dog-eared page.
Then you’ll see what happened and when. He did what I said;
I slipped away while he read, and now I am gone, baby, gone.


Sarah Perrier is the author of “Nothing Fatal” (2010, University of Akron Press) and the chapbook “Just One of Those Things” (2003). Her poems have appeared in the Cimarron Review, Hotel Amerika, the Journal, Pleiades and Mid-American Review. Her work has also been featured on Verse Daily. She is currently an assistant professor at Point Park University.

The video above was filmed at AWP’s 2011 Conference & Bookfair in Washington, D.C. Special thanks to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.

Camera and audio work by the NewsHour’s Crispin Lopez and Kiran Moodley.

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