Paul Hostovsky





I should tell you that I sometimes get my latitudes
and longitudes mixed up. And also my apogees
and perigees. My stalactites and stalagmites sometimes
run together, not unlike my wants and my needs—
the wants drooling down, the needs piling up until
they form a kind of column, a shape like an hourglass
or a woman. My apologies in advance. I always forget
if bimonthly means twice a month or once every other,
and I can never remember the difference between
an iceberg and a glacier, or what desultory means,
or even how to pronounce it. I have these gaps or
interstices. I have these spaces, these lapses and
incontinences. Plus my Arctic and my Antarctic
are hopelessly enmeshed. They’re like totally mush.




She left everything open—
windows, doors, drawers, cabinets,
the little cap on the tube of toothpaste,
letting the air in, letting the bugs in, letting
everything in—while he, on the other hand,

was a firm believer in twisties
and double knots, double bagging and double
checking to make sure the door was
double locked. You could say
she trusted while he trussed. He wanted

to bind her to him, with that wedding band
on the one hand; on the other, she wanted
to keep their relationship open. “The heart
must remain open,” she said. He closed
his eyes and exhaled miserably. “And where

does that leave us?” he asked, and opened
his eyes and saw that she was sitting
close to him on the couch, her mouth slightly
open, as if to say “kiss me” without saying it.




If you framed some photos of people you don’t know
and put them up on your mantelpiece and piano,
on your desk and dresser and end tables,
or just hung them on all the walls—you’d be surrounded
by pictures of smiling people you would probably
never meet in your life, faces of total strangers
who nevertheless, over time, would begin to grow
familiar to you, intimate even, strangely, namelessly
known. And if someday, somewhere, somehow
you began to run into them out in the world,
wouldn’t it feel like coming home? Wouldn’t it feel
like love, the kind of love you only feel for your own
children, whom you love so much it hurts, even now
that they’re grown, distant, reticent, strangers almost?



Paul Hostovsky is the author of three books of poetry, Bending the Notes (2008), Dear Truth (2009), and A Little in Love a Lot (2011). His poems have won a Pushcart Prize and been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer's Almanac, and Best of the Net 2008 and 2009. To read more of his work, visit his website at