Nicholas Rosenfeld Grider


There are no. Or maybe were but have been forgotten. Some for sure were never on the list. Companion is not the word. Love is not the word. Balance is not the word. Salesmanship might be one of the words, if there are words, because even if you’re far more than a manageable stroll away I can still pluck the string connecting us. No one ever plucks it back, not you, not yours, not a vicinity’s volunteer. Now words but a thread, but then maybe not even. Maybe sky. Maybe how you think you’re breathing air and don’t even know it’s mostly nitrogen. Maybe something like wistful but a hell of a lot more pragmatic and rough-hewn than fucking wistful. It was an undertaking––that might be the word. We were an undertaking. We were in bloom.


Or: neglect. Was what romance, stripped of floral and cuddle, actually is. I neglected who I thought I must have been in order to tether not to you but to the between. So maybe it’s the between. The twixt. I got five miles of bad road of between and twixt, you got peripatetic, you got an elsewhere that’s a moving target, I got neglect that’s a moving target, neglect isn’t about forgetting or ghosts, it’s about the extreme end of loose. The extreme end of I didn’t get this pale all on my own. If there are words, they’re all circumvention, they’re circumnavigation, I am the fixed point, the crooked red push-pin in the map, and I can’t even recall my own damn name.


Tempest is a word. Allegiance is a word. Allegiance is a goddamn festival. And I been to one to many goddamn festivals, I don’t need allegiance, I don’t need eloquence so I can render your beauty candy, I need a big pile of dead ends and slack lines and I need them organized according to human coherence. Not that this an indication of or invitation to sprawl. I gather, tangle, bundle, set alight. When I was young I used to want to use the word tangle to mean romance, but now I know that tangle just means you’ve got a shit ton of hard work in front of you, not all of which has a point, but this is just my spit hitting crabgrass, this is not a lesson or a metaphor.


If love is a word I’d say it applies about 63% of the time. Otherwise it’s a shrill whistle of unknown location and intent.


Not going to slather an absent you with “tell me you love me” requests because I could tell myself just fine that you love me, and how much, but all the laughing would make me cough until I got lowered down in hurt. I don’t have my hands tangled in your dark, wavy, oily hair, I’m busy laying most of my money down on possibility and laying the rest right on down on absolutes. There are very few absolutes, but I know, in time, they’ll blossom and swell just like distrust.


There are still no. There’s aluminum. I got an aluminum for you. I got a terrified desert. I got all my bags packed, then I got all my bags unpacked, then I buried all the sterling silver in the backyard, then I crawled into the bed I made. The bed is still big enough for two people to be lonely. They might be strangers anyway. If that’s still possible.


Theosophy won’t even. Nor will motors nor hilarious anecdote. I got a maybe bone to pick, I got a maybe hackle to raise. I got a long list but its length matters not because I always neglect it. I have, in your wake, become a mastermind of neglect. Magic neglect. A neglect expert. Nothing to do with words or how they collide like falling Erector Sets. I got a lot of words I want to say to you, but the deal is that I don’t want you to hear them. Nor just go on your merry way. Have a heart. Have several. Mine is no vacancy, is brownout, is metal-studded mud.


I used to want you to X or Y but all slid away but the memory of want. But what I want to tell you with my words is not that miss you, just that I lack you. And lack is what makes the sun rise and set.


I don’t want to go to hell because of you. I want to go to hell with you.

Nicholas Rosenfeld Grider is the author of the story collection Misadventure (A Strange Object) and his work has appeared in Caketrain, Conjunctions, DIAGRAM and elsewhere.