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Image by Kelly Sikkema

Two Poems
by Paul Hostovsky

Perfect Disappearances


It comes from the Scots feck,
which sounds like an f-bomb
though it isn’t an f-bomb.
Though it may be a distant
cousin. Go ahead, say it: feck-
less. Feels good, doesn’t it?

You could try it out at home.
Say it to your father: “Dad,
that is totally feckless.” And if
he says to watch your language
and sends you to your room,
you can bet your effing

dictionary as soon as your back is turned
he’ll be looking it up himself.
And you will have taught him something.
And you will have taught yourself
to use feckless to good effect.
Which is still really the only way
to make a new word your own.
You have to give it to people. Pick
their pockets and give it back
before anyone looks up.


Paul Hostovsky's latest book of poems is PITCHING FOR THE APOSTATES

(2023, Kelsay). His poems have won a Pushchart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, the FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize, and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer's Almanac, and The Best American Poetry blog.

This poem is for all the writers
writing. On their laptops, desktops, smartphones,
legal pads, napkins, palms 
of their hands—desperate to get it down 
before it disappears
like the phone number of the most amazing person you just met 
and have to see again—
just have to—so you write it on your own skin
and walk off into the world alone
with the whole world in your hand. God
help the writers in love with the words that disappear
like disappearing trains you catch 
by running after them, 
losing a shoe, a hat, an earring, a spouse—a lifetime 
of chasing the disappearing words, 
breathlessly reaching for them, 
grabbing ahold and hoisting yourself up 
onto the caboose, and entering the rhythm 
of those corridors moving through the world 
as you move through them, feeling your way, 
looking up and down and all around 
in search of that most amazing 
dream you dreamed and followed all the way here.

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