Two Poems by Sarah Valeika


I may not have loved you, but
I set your shoes out
at your place on the mat
every day before you hopped the train.
Sat them by the door,
far enough so the cross-breeze from under
wouldn’t chill the toes
and I untied the laces, left them limply at the sides.
Though I never tied them for you,
you preferred it that way,
though I never loved you,
I preferred it that way,
tenderly rendering up your shoes as gifts
not in apology nor recompense
but in firm acknowledgement
that we were walking ever away
and ever back together again.
Your distances were always slower,
mine were just


Bleu Cheese Blasphemy

Blasphemy tastes like bleu cheese,
a dangerous thing that, as a child,
I prodded with the edge of my fingernail
as it rested on a platter for the adults to
nibble. At parties. You know.
The civilized blasphemy, the bits that are
toyed with, munched on, but never
gorged upon–
bleu cheese blasphemy,
not fresh and not right,
consuming something with fungus growing on it
crawling in it, infiltrating it,
but the older I got
the more I wanted it
to try it
like forbidden fruit but not delicious,
simply an exertion of sophisticated powers
of discernment (or lack thereof)
but my choice. Nonchalant.
Blasphemy tastes like bleu cheese
poised atop a cracker no bigger than
a quarter, popped on the tongue
melting there, and it smells like
money and strange social experiments,
eating something moldy.
Eating something off.

Sarah Valeika is a poet and theatre-maker whose works highlight the duality of private and performative lives of characters– both real and fictional.