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PJ Sauerteig


The Painter


In our town

There was an older man

Who loved to paint to all day.

He lived off his pension;

His wife of fifty years

Had died of asbestos.


He set out

To paint a little portrait

Of everyone in our town (1,000 people) –

And each of us happy to sit

For an afternoon with him.


Neighbors asked:

“What are the chances he gets

Through all 1,000 of us,

And reaches this goal of his

Before he dies?

(He’s pretty old, you know)…”


Don’t you cry, dear

He only painted three-hundred five

Before he passed away.

The goal was a thin veneer –

A handsome excuse for the aimless man

To spend less time alone.

“Little” Sadie Wayne Schwartz (on Her Rumspringa)


When she bled out in the barn

Mice came and drank from her arm,

While the calves dream

And the countryside sleeps.


In a cornfield,

On a back-road,

In a fly-over state.


And the rockets

In the rainclouds

Light the eyes of an owl.


And the smell of


(The iron and mold),


And a family

Of herons

Flies numb through the cold.


How a life here –

Like a pebble –

Weighs nothing at all,


At the nipple

Of a black sheep

In the vagabond Fall.

Abram Indiana (on His Rumspringa)


When I’m free,

When I leave the city…


When I’m free,

Then (!) I’ll wake up early:


I’ll tend the rocky fields on the hill,

I’ll serve the basil in my windowsill.


When I’m free,

Swatting at the horse fly…


When I’m free,

And with tears in my eyes:


I’ll sit and watch my grandma Winifred;

I’ll sit and watch her baking raisin bread.

PJ Sauerteig photo.jpg

PJ Sauerteig earned his BA in Creative Writing at Columbia University, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016. He releases music as Slow Dakota through his small record label, Massif Records. Sauerteig is currently finishing up his JD at NYU.


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