Want Not

by Alan Soldofsky

Alan Soldofsky

No matter how I try my hair
won’t grow back. The power’s
gone out, someone saw wires
arcing down the block.

We find a lantern in the garage
that still casts enough light.
The time is never right but this
is probably not the time to say it.

Something’s burning in the house,
that smells like ballast. Something’s
wrong. The microwave won’t turn on,
an interior circuit scorched.

We have to pay the Russians
to fix it. There must be someone
out there who knows something,
at least if it’s worth the cost.


What is connected to what?
The cabinets won’t latch because the doors
are out of true. I don’t remember
who to call about this.

I’ve lost track of the context.
My circulation is weakening. On
one leg, there’re little purplish bumps
where the flesh once was smooth.

Outside a bird sits on an almost bare
sycamore limb. Someone has left a message
about life insurance on the phone.
I erase it, but the voice is there again.

No one answers when I call the handyman
to fix the gutters, clogged with a mulch
of leaves and mud. The forecast says
another rainstorm is coming.

A small brown sparrow peeks
in the window. I barely hear its song
over the hum of the vacuum
sucking up all those lakes of dust.


I go on a walk to reset my body.
The sidewalk smeared
with twigs and dead leaves.
Water standing in the curbs.

I’m careful not to slip. When I get
to Walgreens I’ve gone far enough.
A few panhandlers in the doorway
hold out their signs; I step back.

I’m well-heeled enough. But I give
nothing. I seem to be covered
in glycerin. I turn around looking
as if I’d swallowed a hunk of dry bread.


Under the bridge could be barely
a foot of creek water. I don’t have
to worry if one of my own
might drown camping down there.

In my early twenties, I wore my work-shirts
creased. I needed to stand out from others
who shared the same emblems
of rebellion. No luck.

I bought used sweaters already moth-eaten.
Then took them to the dry cleaners.
I didn’t know anyone who slept
in the steam tunnels, though I pretended.

It was fashionable to seem disturbed
in those days, when the wind raged
in my hair. It was my ambition
to invent a new poetry in pill form.


I want to know how to know what
I want. We got married in Guanacaste
for Christmas, with monkeys howling in the trees and
starfish pointing their crinkled arms.

We walked through the dry forest
beside the Gulfo de Papagayo
to a table where a spiny iguana
clambered up beside us and rolled its eyes.

When I woke up the bed was wrinkled,
the room a vat of humidity. I couldn’t find
my robe or the hook on which I’d hung it.
So, I went to breakfast in what I had on.


I’ve brought with me pictures of two
of my favorite endangered species.
Salvador Dail with his ocelot,
and a collared peccary.

I’ve learned to appreciate the roof
of my beloved’s mouth. What you put into
the body is what you get out of it.
I’m the first and last in my family to remarry.

That would be the fifth and sixth time.
I need a new reason to keep going.
I’ll try anything to keep the moss
from growing over my head.

Last updated November 03, 2022