Ode to the Gain

By Matthew Nienow b. 1983 Matthew Nienow

gain — a bevel cut into plank ends in traditional lapstrake boat construction that allows otherwise lapped planks to lay flush at stem and transom.

There’s the paring chisel’s purpose
in the steamed cedar strake, its long warp

laid strong against the bench,
whose pocked surface is the book

of what has already been made,
or marred in learning’s wake — & clamped

now in the jaws one is
waiting for its match, for the chisel to elaborate

the pencil’s scribed hypothesis, under which
lies another path, & through a tilting eye

the curving bevel’s made, the chisel rolling
back tight scrolls of thinnest grain & what bright

sleeves begin to fleece the floor; there is a lack
given to the wood, some short song cut loose

from the lignin’s name, that a longer &
more buoyant melody be made.

Source: Poetry (January 2013).


This poem originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2013
 Matthew  Nienow


Matthew Nienow was born in Los Angeles and spent most of his youth in Seattle. He earned an MFA from the University of Washington and a degree in Traditional Small Craft from the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding.  His work has appeared in Beloit Poetry JournalNew England Review, Poetry, the Best New Poets anthology (2007 and 2012), and in three chapbooks.

Nienow has received awards and fellowships from the National . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Indoor Activities, Arts & Sciences, Architecture & Design, Painting & Sculpture

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse, Ode

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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