Poetry by Isaac James Richards

In Tennis, Love Means Nothing

There are two types of tennis, love:
sunbaked clay, green-groomed grass,
a California country club—or
shoveling snow off the courts in March.

Wimbledon-white shoes, gold
Luxilon strings, seeded circuit,
pay-to-play, Daddy Warbucks bracket—or
stiff, thread-bare balls and fraying nets.

When we played cold tennis, in North Idaho,
which were we playing? It’s clear, now
that we’re married, but in the moment, love
made me, in wristbands, feel famous.

That eleven-year-old with glasses,
watching slow-motion Federer forehands
on YouTube all winter long… forget
a sixteen-court complex or ball machine.

No gold-star academy disciplined dream
could beat a bus ride south to Boise,
red-hot bathroom tears, broken strings,
Hawk-Eye pinpointing your place: out.

Just the wind, firm enough to float a short lob
backwards—back over the net—reversing
misfortune. What might have been, love?
What was both fiercer and fonder in memory.

Rodin in the Park

snow / sloughs / bough / bomb / brush /
crust / crumble / crunch / catch / cough /
which is to say / as I passed under a fir /
falling crystals tapped me on the shoulder /

a drip directly down the nape of my neck /
cold lips / warm breath / fuse / tongue / pole /
which is to say / we kissed / stone / statues /
courtyard / cast iron / embrace / eternal /

there’s no difference / between / them / us /
on this bench / or petrified bronze / lovers /
lips never unlocking / never thawing / still /
enough to balance snow on their shoulders / 

as a kid / I imagined / making out / with /
amateur / neighborhood / sculptures / because /
no one would / make out / with me / but now /
I know / bone / marble / stone / tongues /

it’s all French / kissing / for immortality.

Isaac James Richards


Up next TCHOTCHKES by Gabriel Campos FIVE FRAGMENTS by Tim Frank
Latest posts REEK by Rayna Perry FIVE FRAGMENTS by Tim Frank Two poems by Isaac James Richards TCHOTCHKES by Gabriel Campos THE OGRE OF CASCADING ACRES by Danny Anderson THE BOX CONTAINING GOD by Jordan Ferensic AN UNSPOOLING OF GLASS SELVAGE by Daniel Dykiel GREAT PLAINS SIN-EATER DROPS THE GLOVES by Rifke Vatsaas VOLTA (FOR BAUDELAIRE) by Noah Rymer 13 ANGELS BEAT YOUR ASS TILL YOUR ASS STARTS TO LOOK LIKE A FLOPPY SACK by Tyler Dempsey NIAGARA by Juliette Sandoval TO MAKE OF THEE A NAME by Andrew Buckner Two poems by Jessica Heron "Grocery Outlet" by Lisa Loop "Gatorbear" by John Biron Interview: Skizz Cyzyk on Baltimore Filmmaking and the Mansion Theater "On Time" by Hanna Webster "Only the Most Neutral Executioners" by GRSTALT Comms Poems for Clara Peller by Ella Wisniewski "I've Got a Fake I.D. from Nevada and No Name" by Max Stone Truth Cult (Last Show) [Anything for a Weird Life] Three poems by Stacy Black "Bob's on Fire" by Alex Tronson Two poems by Alexandra Naughton Reflections on Series Two: How Does He Do It? [Anything for a Weird Life] "A Sadness that Sings" by David Hay "The City" by Ryan Bender-Murphy Three poems by Abigail Sims "The Depth of the Abrasion" by David C. Porter Steve Albini 1962-2024 [Anything for a Weird Life] Some Things are the Same Everywhere [BRUISER Field Report]