Poems I'm Glad I Never Showed Him

by Alexander Lane

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

She Asks for Something Hopeful

I reach into my pocket


not for the cold-jagged teeth of car keys

            —I was going to see him,

            the autodidact—

not for almost empty key lime chapstick

            —on our one and only coffee date I took the plastic wrap

            of the cap and frayed the edges small—at first—then

            larger—like a flower slow splitting itself—


not my school ID

            —which is so foreign

            the dining hall lady who tells me to live the dream

            secretly suspects me of theft:

            she wonders who I am impersonating

            not myself,

                        she knows—

but a piece of gum



a white square

            —I was going to use it tonight

            before I pursued him—

an artifact

            but I never saw him

                        and he never asked where I was

                        or how I was

            Or if

I take it out

and hand it to


            I still know hiw middle name

Here you go!

I say with a smile

            I do.

I had one extra piece

            Or if

            I finished the books he


It must have been for you!

            I did.

                        In case you see the autodidact, let him know.


Full of orange lights like little stars

I can’t focus on,

full of unlit leafy trees

waiting out the summer,

full of something I’m no longer seeing

but imagining—



A light flashes on

a street I cannot name

is empty

I call it Sometime Soon


The hills in the distance

lie quietly

flirting with the darkness

fusing with the black


I witness

The Coal Kiss.


The bridge pushes light over the river

for late night

—early morning—

middle of the night

middle class

just-getting-by-as-long-as-nothing-goes-wrong working folks.

I wonder if they’ve been set free


I name them Freedom Seekers.


They sit

in cars and on couches and under roofs

a part of this little place

this small population

this piece of

“I’ve never known anything better”

a cozy

“I can’t wait to show my kids where I grew up” a white-picket fenced in

zoo of overworked

orange lights

and empty streets

they wouldn’t possibly walk at night.

in confession

that first time i woke up

next to you and wondered if this

                       would go

                    and it did go

            — oh how it went by —

i said to my best friend:

not that I am so delusional to think he is different

than any other,

one more month and we’ll be having this same conversation

about someone else




as if to dispel truth with mocking premonition

i was right

i wish i could swallow those words

have you ever felt such horror

— oh how it aches into your gut —

           that last soft moment

                we held in arms

                    those tears

                       i could



you could not stop

why did we let  go


our last lines

in robotics and pleasantries,

a nod out the door

i am sorry

— how it sounds so processed —

          to have been

                    so convincingly stoic

          it is of my many

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