Julie Choffel

Because I Said So

it’s just
impossible to live among the industrious
what about the business of not

like conscientious objector of
the whole way
though I love a good list
I love something else more

one child goes to his room to deal with
his feelings, the other gets saccharine like
look at me I’m so
so good

so much of the children’s play is pre-
tending but then stepping in and out of it to
now pretend I said I DON’T LIKE YOU.

Between teaching and listening
to her face, little force, little firework
already ashen at the thought
of what people are doing to each other

I’m not ready for place to mean
only lesson—

what about
finding beauty in the terrible world
I mean none of this land looked like this
before people

what about the not-lesson
not wealth accumulation
not permanent structures
not award ceremonies.

We stack up
all the apocalypse. Tell the kids

Now be chemistry and physics
now be a mess of thoughts
our demise making nothing but room
for something else
inside you.

I Mean Seriously

the side hustle of grocery angling
takes up all my would-be
art and makes me gag to think
about supply chains and inefficiency
pollution but there are still people
who would tell me how efficient it is.
You know what takes zero
power except maybe ambient
light is poetry or eating a little bit
of what you find. In The Gleaners
and I
which I haven’t seen because
well you can’t even watch it
you can’t watch anything now
that endless streaming exists
so the old things are all gone
and you can’t even pick them up
with your hands. In this
film that you can only read about
people who are now probably dead
talk about wasting nothing and
mimic the movements passed
down to them. What they picked up
with their hands. How they held
themselves on a brutal agrarian
landscape not yet totally ruined
with an ethics I wish I could
explain. But I haven’t seen it.
I spent an hour searching
an hour lost not even to dirt or
standing in the wind or talking
but poking at ideas to see
if they poke back. The woodchuck
in my garden makes faces at me.
The kids ask for snacks which
come from my phone now
and I wonder is the algorithm
a savior anyway because I
can write with those minutes
about what’s left over
when everything else is taken.
Oh to be an optimist
to see abundance in the wreck
put it in my pocket and keep
walking. And when it’s too heavy
leave it for someone after me
who will pick up the remnant and just run.

Danger Second

says my son when I refuse to speed down our street. Here in the literal suburbs where one block away is the city and the other side a small forest where the foxes hop over discarded condoms and broken glass and people don’t even guffaw at the number of crows. We’re used to voices raised in high winds. I mean everyone goes on their way. It’s the North and they mind their own business which now seems more animal than I ever realized before. We take our dinner to the yard and the bees or wasps or there are so many bugs I cannot keep track come out too and I did not know this place as fecund until I tried to make my own space inside it and found none. Nothing wants to scoot and everything knows what it knows. Its boldness is talking to strangers. Its strangeness quiet. Or only loud on the lam. We are warm-weather critters stockpiling stuff to keep us company in the cold. Driving. Almost home he says Faster and I gently remind him Safety first. Other kids and animals. He replies with what he knows to be true.


of diamonds rising
through the glass
my eyes adjusting
my legs remembering
to be legs again

it’s always going to be strange
to have an inside and an outside

every week or is it every day
I remember this again? with unreliable

the TikTok of the golden retriever helping
the guy working on and under his Honda
is so much and so little of
the dog
the guy
the song overlaying its sad pleasures

I wish living could feel
like the miniature paintings
of India, visibly intricate
my life story on a t-shirt

I used to want a tank top with the words
Demolition Woman
but that’s almost nothing of me

we say, I don’t know this person
I don’t know this thing

but don’t we? know them, the way their voice
clangs when they laugh too loudly
or how their sadness hides in the days
that they don’t call us

maybe it’s all too on the nose
and nobody likes that but me
that what we guess we are
is also what we really are

I guess it’s more like Construction Boss
or if we’re no longer joking
then just Thinker In The Corner

as the bold moves elude me
and I worry them
like fingers covered in paint
or whatever you’ve got access to

mineral & feeling
daylight & seethrough
I watch the pattern rising
then I rise to stop my noticing

Julie Choffel is originally from Austin, Texas, and now lives near Hartford, Connecticut. She is the author of The Hello Delay (Fordham UP) and the chapbooks Figures In A Surplus (Achiote Press), The Chicories (Ethel Press), and The Inevitable Return of What We Do Not Love (forthcoming from Finishing Line Press).
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.