Andrew Gottlieb


Perhaps it's the dust at the cuffs of the walls.
I'm neat but I'm not clean.
Family farther and farther. Cabinets
stacked with cans no one moves.
collect on the counter like debt.
                                                             Overhead, the bed
bangs, some small boat riding the surf
into pilings.
                        No doubt the water stain
on the ceiling tiles is spreading.
                                                             Coffee grounds
and sour milk and orange peels.
                                                              Laundry piles.
Rooms, a rot of molecules. At the sink,
sleeves slip down my arms
like a shudder,
                             drown in the slate lake.
I feel for the knives that hide by the drain.



Halflives was written a few years ago when I was living in Iowa, during a period of time generously filled with study and writing, but also overshadowed by health problems that made that time often challenging and troubling for me. The poem has seen various drafted lives of its own since then but is happy to have finally found family here with the other poems in DIAGRAM.