Jeff Oaks | Mistakes with Strangers

OAKS_web coverMistakes with Strangers: Poems by Jeff Oaks. Number 2.07 in the Seven Kitchens Press Editor’s Series.

Cover art by Mateo:

Release date: July 15, 2014 [125 copies]
30 pages

Jeff Oaks is the author of three poetry chapbooks, including Shift (Seven Kitchens Press, 2010). A recipient of three Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowships, he has published poems most recently in Assaracus, Bloom, Field, North American Review, Poemeleon, and Zocalo Public Square. His poem “Saint Wrench” was selected for Best New Poets 2012 by Matthew Dickman. His essays have appeared in At Length, Creative Nonfiction, and the anthology My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them. 


Mystery who wanders the basement.
Mystery who kicks at the screen.
Mystery whose cowbells mean something is close
to appearing, to appearance.

Earth–Silence–open, don’t keep shutting
or turning mysterious (refuse to be
Rome, Jerusalem, Babylon, those stones),
struggle forward toward me.

There is someone here, waiting, not angry.
Is it even lonely? Similarly restless. Maybe
not even me either–watching the windows.
Tickle the wind chimes, wander the lawn.

Perhaps turn near the patio where someone–
not even me exactly–has left a full mug
of tea, sweet, milky, not even steaming
anymore. No one knows why. No here at least.

The phone didn’t ring. I wasn’t hungry.
Nothing like the dog howling at the mailman.
No neighbor needing help. I just stood up–
but not me necessarily–and I went back to my life

to find it missing–or maybe it was me then.
Mystery, knock. The laundry can go on
being uninhabited. There is vodka in the freezer
so cold it might make a voice tangible, easier.

Sit down. Take off your windbreaker.

  • Purchase Mistakes with Strangers here or send an e-mail query to sevenkitchenspress at gmail dot com.
  • Visit Jeff’s blog here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s