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On Word Choice

The house across the street was something.

Say alive, not something. Something is vapid

and closer to silence than sunrise. 

The house burned down into something.

Say, hope-rot or morning rift, never something.

There was something in the wires, in the walls

crying to be something more.

Say, a story. Say, told.

The young couple in the house tried for years

to get pregnant. The woman smoked each morning

on the narrow porch because something

Say, reckoning. Always reckoning.

never happened. When it finally did,

she didn’t smoke on the narrow porch

for six months until the house burned down

and she lost the baby. For hours, we watched

the house billow and there was something

Say, a dead language.

between smoke and sky. There is something

Say, relentless memory. Say, silence.

inside me that keeps the house burning,

that keeps the woman porch smoking,

that keeps the sky sunrising. The other day

my mother heard something.

Say, reckoning. Say, hope-rot. Say dead language.

Say, wordless, morning rift reckoning.

She heard the woman is pregnant again, due

any day now and isn’t that something?


PATRICK WILCOX is the author of Acta from Cathexis Northwest Press. He studied English and Creative writing at the University of Central Missouri where he also was an Assistant Editor for Pleiades and Editor-in-Chief of Arcade. He is a three-time recipient of the David Baker Award for Poetry, the 2020 honorable mention of Ninth Letter’s Literary Award in Poetry, and grand-prize winner of The MacGuffin’s Poet Hunt 26. His work has appeared in Maudlin House, Quarter After Eight, West Trade Review, and Copper Nickel, among others.


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