Two Pieces (Outcome and There’s Got to be More to a Human Being) by William Bortz


I am scared of outcomes
terrified that they
happen whether I will them

to or not. frightened of
all the petals left to
wilt in warm palms

love, of all things, is a
haunting. how do you
keep exuberant things close

to you without them
becoming a shadow
even now, I am growing

death will forever
be the enemy
because it will take

and have the audacity
to force me to watch
when the only outcome I

desire is to be the petal
and not the palm


but I cannot seem to find space for much more
than stiff wire and soft bone
all action and reaction
how could a soul ever
latch on to this shrapnel
maybe there is nothing but chemistry here
I take a breath—carbon
I hold my wife’s hand, brittle as a bumblebee—carbon
she folds her body like paper
I inhale the smoke from her teeth
we unwrap her together and feed
our child—carbon
this small breathing thing
delicate as a sacrifice
a nickel-sized longing
is all this essential for life
each day I am decomposing so rapidly
I am made of expanding ghosts
we sit on our porch ruthlessly aging
watching our child watch what is watching her
a robin dragging its wing on the pavement
a dusk spilling open only to be closed
her eyes widen, the bird flaps it’s good wing
she coos—carbon


William Bortz is a husband, editor, and poet who lives in Des Moines, Iowa. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Empty Mirror, 8 Poems, Semicolon, Honey and Lime, Oxidant Engine, Okay Donkey, Unvael Journal, The Shore, and the Lyrical Iowa Anthology.



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