Nate Pritts




All the whys & wherefores are hackneyed,
the reasons all gone stale.  Today
I’m just glad to have a life; my scalp takes on the pinkish sheen
indicative of such good fortune.  Existence, friends, is hair-raising.

A base hit gets you to first but I’m greedy;
I’m swinging for the fences every time, imagining
the cheers when I come home.  The umpire clears his throat
& yells “Safe!”  We can try to hold the slippery

fabric of this exquisite world but that earthy satin
is not meant for the timid to caress
between their chapped fingers.  I’d like to take the wheel,
grab the proverbial bull by his horns & wrestle him to the ground

& when my shrink says I see  I’ll give him such a pinch
he’ll learn quick not to mess with a matador.
He’ll learn to let me fight the knockdown, drag-out brawls
I pick with myself all by myself.





There’s a wide-open gulf
between what-is & what-we-hoped-for,

a gap

we try to bridge, a home
we move into

secretly; past midnight & couches

appear, gaudy rugs
drape themselves over hardwood.

Slim doorways require the most

impossible angles!  Some things
just can’t be made to fit.  But imagine—

a table & a lamp in the far corner.



1.   Maybe we should see other people.

Just ten years from now all this will be the past
& we’ll be so high above everything
in our flying cars & metallic jumpsuits.
We’ll be so hard to reach that no one
will be able to hurt us & there’ll be no disease
so we won’t be able to hurt ourselves.
Doctor, what I’ve been feeling just hangs on.
Give me any stupid reason to stay in bed
& I’ll do it.  Don’t tempt me.
You wouldn’t like me when I’m tempted;
I get stuffed so full of desire I’d smash
my whole life just to get at you.

2.   When you’ve been with someone

so long it’s hard to even think
there’s anyone else who could
connect with you on the same
emotional level but then…

3.  To some people everything’s a game,

a simple matter of angles calculated &
executed.  For example: 8-ball, corner pocket.
A friend in Seattle won’t call for months,
maybe a year, & then an apologetic ringing,
mid-morning, surprised to find me at home—
I’ve been bad & you, you deserved it
least of all.  It’s amazing the things we get
used to; in Los Angeles they have earthquakes
everyday but you learn to compensate.
You learn to work with what you have.

4.   What’s constant?  I fall in love

with the weather lady when she predicts rain.
Today there’s a 20 percent chance
but tomorrow it’s double or nothing.

5.   It feels like a hundred bowling balls

rolling around under my feet & here I thought
I was on stable ground.  Melodrama
is when you act like the stakes are higher
than they really are.  God!  Maybe
if we all pray for the same thing at the same
time then what we want to happen will happen.
I pray I’m right.  I’ve been told to stand in doorways
during but what about afterward.
Afterward is it ok to come in?





Every year it’s the same damn thing.
It’s constant
this dull, red ache.
Rains come in & stop

just when you think
they won’t.  Long afternoons alone.



I feel things that aren’t there
to be felt; we have
no lasting city;
we have no ref
to say who’s right or wrong,
no umpire to say when we’re safe.

If my heart had knees
those knees would fold;
I’d admit it all
before the finger points.



A flimsy curtain separates
memory from imagination.

Do I remember
a better life than this?



Nate Pritts took his BS at SUNY Brockport, his MFA from Warren Wilson College and his Ph.D. from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Currently, he teaches at the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts, a residential high school for gifted students,& at Northwestern State University. His poems have recently appeared in Rattle, Cimarron Review, Solo, Dogwood and 5am.

Nate Pritts was nominated for Poets Under 30 by the storySouth editors.

Poetry copyright 2004 by Nathan Pritts.