As if you can tell what I am thinking
I avert my thoughts.
A slight adjustment,
deftly calibrated for maximum plausibility.
"Max Plausible," you could call me
and I laugh, then almost laugh at:
too busy observing thoughts to think;
straddling a bank between two streams (of
feet foot-deep in mud;
but you're only ever really cold until you stick your
Having neutered this thought and
sun-dazed, knowing I will never speak to you,
I play in the liquid grammar of the slogan printed on your
I watch myself say: Without a hyphen
"Fired" reads like a verb. Isn't that funny, who's "Wood," whose
car is he driving.
From your tent, from the wood-fire of your tent
you decide to glare, but not along my distance. I manage to
take this personally, somehow.
(hindsight: I am devoted to distance. You Miss One Hundred
Percent Of The Shots You Don't Take but in the stands we’re
all Gretzky when we wanna be. Back here I weigh but an
ounce to you.)
(hindsight: It's impossible to make smile she who will not look
I shift my weight again and research the topic of
when a man with the deadest eyes mine ever did see sidles up
and begins to speak. And hello, I say, I demand you give me
your blueprint for living, the architecture of your desires.
You must want for something, no?
But for every exertion of will—
there is your You you have to deal with?
And, like, have you thought about that?
Maybe: But For a Wife I Am Content
Slice of Pizza? 'Cuz you've got the wrong tent buddy.
How did you come to know yourself?
Or what don't you hate about yourself, let's start from there?
Senilicide was a real practice among the eskimos,
and I do this to ideas, notions, impulses.
I hold them, mature them into absurdity then cast them of
and watch them drift slowly away, tilting the ice,
often with sadness,
but more often the kind of giddy relief you feel when your
most boring friend cancels dinner.
For the truly weightless want for nothing!
On a roll now we indulge in hypothesis:
So let's say there's this girl, I say,
small and devastating
(but when are they not, right?);
glare like wood-fire;
eyes a distant mesh of gears;
and hair which refuses to simply be
one way or the other
but rather: cut both short and long,
it defies all doubt in being,
seeming at all times to both inhabit and shelter its opposite.
Hair after my own heart.
I shift my weight and notice that the man who's speaking's
hair is brown, and nonsensically I wonder over his head
if you are sick of the color brown,
if I am wearing too much brown,
if everything is just too brown these days.
So? I ask this man,
Do you color her life with yours
and is that safe
and most importantly:
To what end? To which end?
And he is still talking and
in his face
I realize I am repeating.
My co-worker a statue depicting boredom,
I find that "We don't have those" does not satisfactorily
resolve the matter of "Two skinny lattes."
I probably wear my scowl to bed.
II. Love Poem
From afar, all action looks effortless. This is to say: All action
To live at all is to live in distance.
Love and hate are functions of the same property, barely
minute deviations. Calibrate how you like, for we govern only
in space, and shall all succumb to ludicrous brevity.
And just as "tangle" is singular,
the tangled do not bridge distance
but negate it and refuse,
like your hair,
to cower before the premise.
For we who breathe are premised.
And as you
need no one to tell you:
All action is defiance.
I see you standing.
It's a gift to stand in relation to you.
Cole Hager is a writer living in New York City, where he ekes out a modest living in publishing. He studied literature at Oberlin College, and his work has been featured in Electric Cereal, The Wilder Voice, and elsewhere.