Metatron Prize

for Rising Authors





Matthew Girolami

Fire Regime









Matthew Girolami holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Teaching-Writing Fellow. His work is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, The Believer, Horsethief, Two Peach, and elsewhere. His reviews appear in Jacket2 and Poetry International Online. He lives in Iowa City where he teaches at the University of Iowa.







Who are you and what’s your zodiac sign?
I’m Matthew Girolami, and I’m a Scorpio.


What is Fire Regime about?
There are recurring themes in the book, but it’s “about-ness” to me feels more rooted in what its interested in on a language level. Fire Regime is an exercise in learning to understand what preoccupies me materially and spiritually. I was fixated on resisting conventional grammar and syntax so that I could touch on the original lyric, to call out, music. 


Could you tell us a bit about the process of writing Fire Regime?
I have thrown away a whole book’s worth of poems while writing this book. 


What are some books you’ve read and enjoyed lately?
Baby, I Don’t Care, Chelsey Minnis
Feeld, Jos Charles
Vice, Ai
Rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald


Anything else?
I’m overjoyed.







I was severed 
I spent my severance 
Can we talk about it
& can we do it with 
the wrought iron serifs 
of my first house’s windows’ 
bars where I was
crossed with sun 
on the floor 
of the living room 
before I could pinch my salt
to sign my name 
& sign my name 
for the stuff that moves me?
I mean to think 
I bought a car 
to put some blood in a dream 
& my tire burst into tears 
on the shoulder 
on the way to a graduation 
I arrived at eventually only 
to ask a strange man 
for scotch
tape to tape 
my blazer together 
like the ghost of manners 
the ghost of speech 
the ghost that takes me 
an education to hear 
before I hear myself 
in a room 
with very beautiful rugs 
asking how 
does one do that? 
How does one stitch 
such a curve on such 
an ornament? 
To be told one doesn’t 
You don’t stitch 
You knot 
& take your shoes off 
& I did because I wanted 
to thank the academy 
for the library card 
& the etymology 
dictionary: I am
the gift of god
& his stenographer too:
I am [Jerome]
deadening a bible
I cannot read
I mispronounce 
my dental records
having learned 
how to speak 
lipsyncing grace
at the dinner table
cat to cat 
Repeat after trees





I wash my hands in the Rio Grande


The soil: an arrangement of infinite
shattered terra cotta pots


The earth was so soft


We drove our stakes          
into the once river


Our shelter        a vision:
verdant glitch
apparition of green green grass


Somehow coyotes survive
They cry all night


You say the world ends all the same
That doesn’t satisfy me  


In the distance derricks          
drink oil from the underworld






Before I can pay taxes the aptitude test tells me 
I will mop floors or clean terms from a blackboard & I do


After work I wash chalk from my hands to touch quiet like 
My mouth works & it works against my body smooth with acrylic envy  

We shower to get warm in & I’ve told the story of the tattoo to myself 
That when I tell you the story of the tattoo I don’t expect you to flinch  

At the cherub the size of a dollar bill leaning on a single word physical
With the black of animal soot on the left where the heart is mistaken