Four Poems

By Max Bien Kahn



Below are four new poems by New Orleans-based musician Max Bien Kahn. His new EP, On the Floor EP, will be released on December 3rd. Preorder the EP here. Listen to a track from the EP right here.



small victory


got a full refund at the mall today
they asked me if anything was wrong
i told them:
it didn’t fit right
if i had told them:
i buried my mom in this shitty suit
and don’t want to look at it anymore
that would have been



chinese food


her last day was christmas
our last dinner was christmas eve
we sat around upstairs
in the tv room
the tv was off
she couldn’t walk downstairs anymore
i filled my plate with chinese takeout
and she choked on a bowl of tapioca
or whatever that nutritional slop was
spitting it up from time to time
and then declaring in her frail voice
i’m never gonna eat again
i put my plate down
i agreed


you did this on purpose
didn’t you
you brought us together for christmas
we always celebrated like good jews
we went to the movies
and ate chinese food
which you never wanted to eat
but we loved it
and you loved us
when we were all together
at a big round table
with a lazy susan
picking through the greasy pile
of what we call
chinese food
and you would swallow
and smile
because your family was eating together
and it was christmas



returned mail


i received a letter
two days after she died
she had the wrong address
inside were chocolate coins
crooked letters
few words falling down the page
it was the shortest letter
it made it just in time
i sat in my childhood bedroom
down the hall from her room
where she took her final sleep
i folded the paper
and i ate a chocolate coin
i took the rest home
now they sit in a drawer
safe in my room
where i sleep every night
i think i will eat another someday
or maybe they’ve spoiled
and then i’ll have to throw them away





i’m sitting in the kitchen
drinking coffee with dad
when i see her ghost
out of the corner of my eye
moving quickly
she’s always up to something
dad, did you see that?
she’s still around?
yeah, she’s around. but i don’t think she knows.
well, did you ask her? did you tell her?


alone in the kitchen
i hear footsteps
tap down the stairs
around the corner
there she is
long brown hair
a young face
smiling at me
sweetie! it’s so good to see you! how have you been?
mom, do you know that you died?
my gosh! a surprise visit! how lucky i am! how long are you staying?
mom, i asked-


she holds me
for just a second
and it’s her
it’s actually her
and i try so hard
not to wake up 


Max Bien Kahn is a New Orleans-based musician and plays in the world-renowned jazz band Tuba Skinny. He has put out his own music as Max & the Martians, and his debut solo release, On the Floor EP is forthcoming from small indie label Perpetual Doom on December 3rd. These are his first poems he’s had published.

9 responses to “Four Poems”

  1. Jesse Fink says:

    Leave A Reply…..?

  2. W. says:

    Hope her memories will remain with you and help you in this journey.

  3. Liz Perelstein says:

    Wow Max. You’ve really captured it. She’s always with you but you’ll never stop missing her. This is a hard week, her birthday and Thanksgiving. Thinking of you.

  4. Ernest Galvan says:

    Thanks for writing these.

  5. Dee-Dee says:

    Max you are a beautiful & gifted writer. You captured her perfectly & the details of your journey in a lovely way. It warms my hear that she’s visited you. She would be so proud of you Max. Sending love from the Sberlo family. ❤️❤️❤️

  6. Linda Liebschutz says:

    What a stunning tribute to your mother, Max. You express so much love. We all miss her so much and you have brought her back through your words.

  7. B and P W-P says:

    Thank you Max for the Jane connections. Becki and Peretz

  8. Dorothy Richman says:

    Beautiful writing. Her memory is a blessing.

  9. Anila says:

    Max, thanks for bringing Jane back, even for just a moment. I know how you feel about the chocolate in the drawer. After my mom died, I kept in my freezer a cake baked by her, and every Friday we would eat a very small piece, trying to prolong it as long as we could.
    Your mom always talked about your music so proudly, and now your poetry reaches her as well. I miss her so much. Thanks for sharing. 💙

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