Poems by Zach Hauptman 2017

Zach HauptmanZACH HAUPTMAN is an Electronic Resources Librarian at Touro University by day, a CCSF student at night, and a gigantic genderqueer nerd at all times. With their group, Truth Sans Justice, they run panels on popular culture, misogyny and the queer community, and write LARPs that run in and around the SF Bay Area. In their copious free time, they write poetry, short fiction and snarky blogs about social issues.


the sinews of trees are smooth,
and I read their pauses
with my fingertips
a half-foolscap left partially blank
between our silences

pressure marks my skin
washed and flattened in great rolling sheets
and I emboss myself
with a refusal
to erase my own words

between us the pale expanse
of dunes littered with eraser dust
is a never-traversed desert
your signature a dark mountain
scrawled in the haze of distance

beneath the bark
i am textured, homemade
like a child’s first attempt at paper


my body is peril
soft and round
sweet like a sugar bowl and
tart as orange blossom honey
I’ve gotten used drawing its curves
the way it folds
raises the fabric of my shirt
and hangs at my belly
the back of my thighs
and under my arms
but my body is peril
soft and round
cheeks thick with peach fuzz
instead of a dusting of dark stubble
beneath my jaw
it swings loose in the wrong places
at the wrong times
an heirloom of my mother’s mother
my fingers are short
like the rest of me
my body is peril
I trace its physical being
my sense of it in the space I take up
there are words for having the wrong sense of yourself
taking up a shape that twists
at the edges of your consciousness
never settling quite right
like an untailored suit coat and pants
a skirt that rides up inconveniently
and my body is peril
there are no sharp curves here but
today my hands cup flesh at my chest where
my mind insists there should be a gentle slope
strokes warmth and wetness between my thighs
where solid flesh should go
and tomorrow this map I am building
will be off again by inches
hips too big but chest just right
voice too high-pitched but
a jawline soft as a flower
at the side of a highway
every night the map of my body burns
and I redraw it
hoping I don’t fall

early morning
passes on a muddy path–
coffee on the tongue


the void of space is not to be reproduced
a caustic paint limited
to a single person at a time

of his choosing
he will

spin a black cherry scented
lattice work of paint strokes
each center an infant star
haloed by the
treachery of seeing



the totality of home
can be expressed in a span of
blue grey
pale with a promise of horizon

worn pink sneakers with
dirty laces undone and left to droop on the asphalt
soles lift, first one
then the other

clouds like purpling worlds
against a starlings’ gyre
but I’m on the ground


Empty yourself
the first day of mourning
is for numbness
a day to sit on low chairs
and feel absence
pressing against your collarbone

Cover your mirrors
the second day of mourning
is for loneliness
we are guests
in our own lives

Pass through doorways
like a ghost
the third day is excessive
in its mourning
a dybbuk possessing you
and you pull demons out hair by hair

Kiss the mezuzah
the fourth day of mourning
a visitation
each entrance a reintroduction
by strangers acting as hosts
in your home

Remove your shoes
on the fifth day of mourning
bare feet solid on the cool floor
legs shifting
toes relearn the notches and grooves
of the floor

Stitch up the tears in your clothes
the sixth day of mourning
begins the repair work
with needles too long and thick
and clumsy hands
holes too obviously mended by
unskilled workers

Don’t cut short
the last day
walk around the block
smell air no longer thick and heavy
behind doors and curtains

When you return
sit on your stoop
wait like children
stripped of pretense


There’s a prayer
you recite upon waking
while laying in bed

– I give thanks
– to G-d
– for returning my soul
– to my body

all the while
my head rests on my pillow
and my soul tries to rise and escape
again before the words are out.

this is the essence of sunrise
the slow, cold, blue of the lightening sky
anchoring my waking consciousness to my body
while all I want to do
is hide my head
under a pillow.