B.A. Van Sise

Santo Domingo

In the square, four dark men in straw hats
play an old song that sways with the breeze,
Sixty beats a minute, same as your heart,
and just a bit farther the town gives way
to the land’s end, where salt water laps on sand.
Perfect, all, but we’ve another plan instead:
We’re glad we’re alive. Today, we stay in bed.

The Man Watching Porn on the 7 Train

has a had a long day, I’m sure: his boots caked with
cement dust, his jeans dirty from their seventh straight
day of wear, his shoulders aching from the pipes
he carries, his knees sore from where he kneels down
to put them in. The Union has helped him earn
his keep: tonight he’ll sleep alone in an apartment
he’s earned through the ache of his hands, ransomed
from the growing skyline, his byline forgotten but
the building, at least for a while, to remain. And on
the train? He watches a young woman curl the
way steel never can, take into her hand a man
that is not him, jerk and spasm and tell the camera
it’s something like love, try to convince that her
ideal day involved, like him, a room full of men.
and muck. and pay. the volume down, he
sits quietly and watches her continue the
slog: perhaps he just wants to see someone,
anyone, who had a worse time on the job.


B.A. Van Sise is an author and photographic artist focused on the intersection between language and the visual image. He is the author of two monographs: the visual poetry anthology Children of Grass: A Portrait of American Poetry with Mary-Louise Parker, and Invited to Life: After the Holocaust with Neil Gaiman, Mayim Bialik, and Sabrina Orah Mark. He has previously been featured in solo exhibitions at the Center for Creative Photography, the Center for Jewish History and the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and numerous group exhibitions; a number of his portraits of American poets are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. His short nonfiction and poetry have been featured extensively in an array of literary magazines,and he has been a finalist for the Rattle Poetry Prize, the Travel Media Awards for feature writing, and the Meitar Award for Excellence in Photography. He is a 2022 New York State Council on the Arts Fellow in Photography, a Prix de la Photographie Paris award-winner, a winner of the Lascaux Prize for Nonfiction, and an Independent Book Publishers Awards gold medalist.