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Mother's Closet

By Sam Ambler

Closets are for clothes

skeletons, and queers.

When I was small

I liked the smell, the dark

in mother's closet.

I thought the shoe rack

in the back of her closet

to be a doorway to another world:

when I slipped into her shoes

I crossed that alien threshold.

Closets are for hanging clothes

hanging skeletons, hanging queers.

Now I am tall

I take the clothes out of my closet

and wear them;

I take the skeletons out of my closet

and air them;

I take myself out of the closet:


how the sunshine feels upon my face.


Sam Ambler’s writing has been published in Christopher Street, The James White Review, City Lights Review Number 2, Nixes Mate Review, and Visitant, among others. He won the San Francisco Bay Guardian’s 6th Annual Poetry Contest.

He earned a BA in English, specializing in creative writing of poetry, from Stanford University. He delivered singing telegrams and sang with the Temescal Gay Men’s Chorus in Berkeley and the Pacific Chamber Singers in San Francisco. He has worked in nonprofit theater at Berkeley Rep, Geffen Playhouse, Actors’ Equity, and The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Now retired, he lives in California with his husband, visual artist Edward L. Rubin.


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