Somewhere this room
a gizmo chirps not
twice an hour, maybe,
someone calling him
who’s not here. Or not
a call, but a notification
by someone a group
he joined once, someone
not thinking him, exactly,
and he not thinking the group
neither now nor as long as he’s
not been here, the gizmo
not making as much of it
as I am here.


  1. The gizmo-like stop, start shuddering breaks, elisions, crevasses here are just wonderful. I very much do not like this – not. Come Monday, I’ll be passing this out to my Summer Program kids. What is missing? Why? Who is not here? Are we here? If you sum the not’s, does anything remain? Segue to dark matter!

  2. Bill, I never thought of a coworker, but yes! The poem was inspired by my son (the “hymn”), who turned 18 years old the very minute I posted it. (I love the idea of gods being collateral, particularly in the sense of relations.)

    Julie, “Elisions are crevasses, and what is is not” is the entire method and message here. You’re the closest reader I know.

    (An explanation to (hopefully) lessen the kids’ confusion: I went back and forth about taking the “in” out between “by someone” and “a group,” ultimately finding the potential parallel with the first line irresistible.)

    Thank you both.

    1. I love the repeatedly omitted “in”. And the omitted “of,” which opens the possibility that he exists only in the minds of others, and vice versa. “Gizmo” is the perfect echo for “not”, while slightly suggesting independent agency and sentience. The gizmo is the only one that we are certain is “here”. Thank you: we’ll have great fun with this!

      1. I would love to hear you in operation with the kids. I’m fascinated by the challenge of watching my ninth graders unwrap a poem I like. If it works, it’s like putting a bomb in the room (the easy part) and finding its fuse to light (sometimes the hard part). I know I could learn a lot from you.

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