In coping with an empty chair

I am as strong

as the heaviest things

I have failed to carry


a child, a whimper, a mouthful of wonder


I have abandoned all softness

all the groaning and groaning

I have left no room for

pain in my throat

I said a name one time, earnestly

and then never again

it dried up, as my hands

it tears the stockings my wife wears

it pulls moisture from the concrete

leaving empty streaks in my driveway


sometimes I wake up breathless

as though something has burrowed, following

the trail of my windpipe

a moist graveyard in between my cheeks, an acknowledgement

and I scream

and scream




it’s four in the morning

and I am rearranging the darkness—strained

I am lifting and moving

just to feel strong again


just to wrap my tongue

around a name and

urge it to sound like something

more than haunting


like something

that can be held

in my hands 

William Bortz has had pieces in Luck Magazine, Folded Word, Empty Mirror, and The Lovebook. William just published his second book of poetry Shards this year. Lately, I’ve Been Drinking Alone., his first book of poems, was published in 2014.