Bottomless Vat

Sean Singer

Today in the taxi I realized I had been driving the taxi for four years. I looked into my

former life and didn’t know where it was, and I looked ahead and couldn’t see anything.

I picked up two teenage girls on Amsterdam Avenue. They were going to Barney’s. They

were talking about Chloe handbags. Then one said: “Did you used to teach?” She

recognized my face from my year working as a substitute at many private schools.

I thought of the petrified forest in Arizona where the logs became rocks. Groundwater

dissolved silica from ash and changed the wood into quartz.

No one looking down at the green and yellow spherules in the trunk’s matrix believes it

was wood that is now a rock. Fear pressed through fear into the stone’s wheel, as Kafka

said not only in innocence, but also in ignorance.



Sean Singer is the author of Discography (Yale University Press, 2002), winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America and a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts; Honey & Smoke (Eyewear Publishing, 2015); and Today in the Taxi (Tupelo Press, forthcoming 2022). He runs a manuscript consultation service at

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