Overheard from a phone conversation
Alex Chertok

I can’t even count – do you know how many –
do you know how many times I edited it –
edited it – I can’t – it feels – try –
edited it – my tongue can’t move that fast –
it’s like when I played sax – no – but yeah
I fleshed out my argument – I touched
on all the things I always touch on – I do
– wait – I do too do that – is that
what you – when I met you you told me you were –
is that what you tell people? – don’t put that
on me – see no – sometimes you can speak – no
sometimes you can speak by listening – like I
– I don’t want to have this conversation – but what –
what’s the but – why the but – no this
is serious – come on – of course I remember –
that was all you – you couldn’t keep your hands
off – there was a while we were a part
of that whole – a part of – no not apart from –
of – no see cause – see there’s the but again –
see no cause that’s not what they think
when they meet you – no – it scares me that you’re
gonna want that someday – I need you to be clear –
I’m not – no I wouldn’t – I need you – no
I definitely wouldn’t say that – at all – ever.

Alex Chertok has published poetry in The Cincinnati Review, Barrow Street, Bat City Review, Linebreak, 32 Poems, The Journal, Cimarron Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others. He was awarded a fellowship to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and recently completed his MFA degree at Cornell University, where he was a Lecturer.