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Matthew Porubsky

Matthew Porubsky

John Cover

Ruled By Pluto Cover

voyeur poems

fire mobile







    Matthew Porubsky lives in Topeka, Kansas, and works as a freight conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad. His first book of poetry, voyeur poems, published by Coal City Press, was the winner of the Kansas Authors Club Nelson Poetry Book Award in 2006. His second book, Fire Mobile (the pregnancy sonnets), was released by Woodley Memorial Press in 2011 and his poetry has been featured in several journals including RHINO, Sierra Nevada Review, The Lampeter Review, The Journal (UK) and elimae. Visit to check out more about his poetry, books and films  

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Bibliography ( - housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)  


Porubsky's - Transcendent Deli

Here is the trailer for Porubsky’s – Transcendent Deli, a film in which Porubsky documents the history behind his family's Deli and Tavern located in the Little Russia neighborhood of North Topeka. You can view the documentary on YouTube.

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Writing Samples and Reading  

And I still have your key.
It’s rusted some at the teeth.
I dropped it in the lake out of spite
but instantly grabbed for it,
without thinking, as it was sinking.
It was like that time last summer. 

I shouldn’t have done that.

I see it on my keychain hiding
in line with all the others.
I remember what it used to open:
the doors and hallways and rooms
of noise and breath from the slid
twistings of grooves and pins.

Now it is quiet as rust.
It smells like lake water.

I’ll keep it.

---Published in the The Naugatuck River Review 2012

(Weighing One Ounce)

It seems an intangible abstract now,
like a step off a cliff, an arm asleep
as blood returns to the veins’ steady creep,
the watery shadow of old window

pane glass. If there were a window to see
inside, perhaps it would be more defined,
less rehearsed words to hide ideas behind,
a picture other than what might just be

more tummy reflected in the mirror.
This view would rearrange reasons, give sight
to feeling, proof to the sickness, delight
to pains. Underneath this tiny parlor

you could measure its fit in your cupped hand
exact, line to line, where head and feet land.

---from Fire Mobile (the pregnancy sonnets)

(Fifth Dream)

Knees high in the air, you stare at the masked
man between your legs. You’re feeling no pain
as he issues pushes. Water sounds rain
on tiled floor as the effort you’ve been tasked

feels completed. The masked man stalls when asked
by you to see the birth. With a certain
observant stare he surveys with disdain
what he holds from your sight. Then, you are basked

in the lit joy you delivered. He holds
a red balloon, gleaming slick, dotted with
white barnacles marrowed and intricate.

You smile as he places it on the folds
of your chest and you stroke the clammy pith
of its red skin, so smoothly delicate.

---from Fire Mobile (the pregnancy sonnets)

daydream girl no. 11
(a swimming pool poem)

i am below the surface
when i hear you swimming
in hushed echoes
through the silent black water.
my skin can taste you.
your fingertips fret a prayer
and toes tap a code
on the waves of your winged motion,
deeper and darker,
to float with me in between.
air bubbles slip from our noses and lips
and tremble to the surface,
sounding like water drips down a drain.
i watch them float to the surface
of rippling monarch wings in the
orange lamplight mixed with midnight.
your shadowed body floats in my hazed eyes
and your hair slowly writhes blacker
in an underwater breeze.
your heart beats a hymn
in the throbbing silence of my ears
as we float,
blind face to blind face,
touching in completeness
without contact.
at home displaced.

---from voyeur peoms

John Brown

My sermon
remains a painting
only in pencil sketches.
Hangs, dangles
loose on a tight rope.
I whistle in the breeze.

---seveneightfive magazine

John Keats

Laying such words
soft beside you.
They pulse, fill
ears, veins
flow unioned.
Each a petal,
a dagger, a star.

---ReThink Topeka Anthology 2011

Our Dream Union

Porubsky read a poem he wrote in response to Governor Sam Brownback's efforts to eliminate funding for the Kansas Arts Commission. About the poem and the Governor's efforts, Porubsky said: I wrote this poem,"Our Dream Union," on request from Keith Walberg and the producers at Gizmo Pictures. The poem and visuals were presented to help bring attention to Governor Brownback’s attack on the Kansas Arts Commission(KAC.) The Governor was successful in his abolishment of the KAC and the funding it provided to numerous artists and communities in the state of Kansas. Even so, this is still an incredible visual piece and I am proud to have participated.

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Author Interview

  Q: How has your Kansas upbringing influenced your writing?

A: In voice and content, so basically in every way. From early on, I wanted to write poetry more for those who don’t usually read poetry. Growing up, not many of my friends and family read poetry, so when I began writing, I strived to stay true to a voice I heard in my head: A voice that is able to speak to a railroader or butcher as well as a professor or professional writer. I have always heard folks around here say many things similar to, “I don’t get poetry, so I don’t read it.” I don’t necessarily want to change their minds, but I want them to think twice about checking out a book of poetry or attending a reading. I want the poetry that I bring to people to be a surprise.

Q: Are you influenced by any other Kansas authors?

A: The poetry I read most is the work of friends I have made in the community of Kansas writers. When I began writing poetry, I was lucky to meet Brian Daldorph, editor of Coal City Review, and he has been a tremendous influence and supportive friend. He introduced me to writers like Amy Fleury, Denise Low, Kevin Rabas and many others.

I discover volumes through experiencing Kansas writers. The writers who I am learning from the most right now are Thomas Fox Averill, who constantly shows me new dimensions of voice and culture, and Leah Sewell, facilitator of the Topeka Writers Workshop, who always surprises me with a new resonance to the Midwestern experience that can relate beyond any boundary.

I think William Stafford has written some of the greatest poems ever, but doesn’t everybody say that? And all the contemporary poets who spent their younger years in Topeka like Ed Skoog, Gary Jackson and many others who are on the front lines of the poetry scene for the nation. That’s incredible and inspiring, not to mention their poetry is awesome

Q: How did you get your start as a writer?

A: It started before I started writing, for sure. I admired musicals, movies and comic books and the variation of voices and perspectives that they supplied. I learned story and the use of characters through these arts. I think that is why I write so many persona poems; because of the concept that one person can write so many personalities beyond themselves.

Q: You have worked with different mediums, including poetry and screenplays. How has using these two methods allowed you to express yourself differently as a writer?

A: That is really connected to the last question. In a way, I don’t focus on expressing myself as much as I think about expressing others. I’m constantly thinking about audience and what would appeal to them. A lot of it has to do with the visuals, as well. In writing poems, it is a bit more of a challenge to set a scene compared to writing for screen. The screenplays I have written directly relate to how they will be interrupted by director, DP, etc. With poetry it is all up to me. I have to say that I enjoy the later if I were to compare them.

Q: What do you hope readers will get from your writing?

A: As much as I do. I do it for the reader as much as for me. Without a good and trusting relationship with them I am not doing my job. It is my responsibility to display confidence in each poem, each line. I know if they aren’t with me from the start, they won’t be around at the end.

Q: Do you have a personal favorite among your published poems?

A: I do, but it changes day by day. It’s like some days you are in the mood for different music. Some days, especially at readings, I read a poem that I haven’t gone back to in a while and feel renewed in its importance.

There are several poems in Fire Mobile that have an intense importance to me, of course. I have to say I am quite proud of one of my longer poems, “Ruled by Pluto.” It’s hard to explain. It’s more of a feeling I experience while reading them.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: Change. I always want to be changing in style and content. I have a third collection of poetry, Ruled by Pluto, that I am currently sending around. I have been pretty successful with the individual poems and hope I’ll get lucky when it comes to them as collection. I also have a completed chapbook called John that I am currently submitting that are all about famous and notorious Johns. There are so many, but I have stopped around twenty-three poems. They are very short. I think people will like that; short poems about people they know. We’ll see.

Then of course, there is the railroad manuscript. Talk to me about that in ten years.

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  • The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Kansan of the Year in Arts and Entertainment 2009
  • Wild West Film Festival Fall 2009 First Runner-up for “Press Your Luck” (co-writer)
  • Winner of the 2006 Kansas Authors Club Nelson Poetry Book Award for Voyeur Poems
  • Winner of the ADDY Best in the Show Award for Porusbsky’s - Transcedent Deli

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