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Nathan Hoks

Personality Test


Everyone tells me I look like Jim.

Jim, I say, who the hell is Jim? In truth

I know him, but I’m feeling anxious

About these accusations. I have to flip

Through a stack of magazines just to

Work up the courage to go to bed. And

When I awake I’m not certain I’m in

The right room. My fear is assuaged

When I see Jim’s portrait hanging

Over the dresser. I reach for the feathers

I keep on the nightstand. Their silky

Texture teases my insides, begs them

To come out. Another tissue wriggles

And I feel its cursive glide across

The wall. If I were to close the curtain

More dust would appear around the rim

Of my water glass. I can’t drink anymore.

My insides will be washed away.



Operation White Out


My friend John is always carrying on

About the laundry detergent. His neighbors

Have built tall fences. When he walks

Into a party the host turns up the music.

I try to cheer him up, invite him over

For jelly donuts. His sullen face bothers

My dogs. His bloodshot eyes seem to drip

On their eggwhite fur. I try to distract him

By sharing my theory that over the years

The sky’s shade of blue has been

Gradually lightening so that soon

The sky will be white all the time.

You won’t want to bleach your undershirts.

You won’t care about the enzymes,

How they work away at the marinara

On your cloth napkin. And the lake

Of soluble phosphates will fill with

Algal blooms and kill the fish and plants.

The same green spot is growing inside me.

Soon I’ll be another sprout looking in

From the outside, from grey whiskers,

Road slush, overcast sky, barrier cloud.



Invisible Barrier Syndrome


All the good baby names have been taken

Says my wife who refuses to have a child

But can’t stop playing with the stuffed zebra

That lives in the box beside our couch.

The shadows brush by her face as if refusing

To let her pass. But a baby does not need

A name and I can imagine it on a large wheel

Rolling through the door. A man in overalls

Will probably be behind it with his cell

Phone going off and a pigeon feather in

His ear, which will make us cringe, but we’ll

Be cool, we’ll play along. We’ll pull out the couch

And add a picture of a truck to the wall.

No one but babies believes in walls

But there they are and we cannot avoid

Walking around them. Walls in my house,

Walls on the street. When there are enough

Walls my wife and I stand in the middle and call it

The inside. A leaf is growing out of our face.




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