It Could Have Been

– Ronald Pelias

The infestation of ants crawling over the morning paper, finding their way to whatever was left exposed

Or the words that were never spoken and the ones that were

Or how they saw themselves buried, under a stack of demands, under a pile of pressures, under an avalanche of missteps

Or the trash accumulating, waiting to be put out

Or a mother leaning toward the house, a tilting telephone pole after a storm

Or the dust that settled, asking not to be disturbed

Or those nights when the moon appeared as an angry eye

Or two children, one difficult as the desert sun, and the dog, always wanting to be fed, always licking, always wanting out

Or the gun, supposedly for their protection, kept under the pillow

Or the broken birdbath, its stagnant water a home for falling leaves

Or the neighbors, their television always blaring, their refusal to say hello

Or the lights that needed to be on, the water that needed to run, the grass that needed to be cut, the rent that needed to be paid, the car that needed to be repaired, the loan that needed to be settled, the fence that needed to be fixed, the credit card that needed to be destroyed, the booze they needed to drink

Or the rain that would never stop and the muddy shoes at the door

Or the empty, backache jobs, unnatural labor, best suited for a machine

Or the anniversaries that came and went without notice

Or the wind with its howl, with its promise of another place


Ronald Pelias’ work has appeared in a number of journals, including Small Pond, Yet Another Small Magazine, Out of Line, Midwest Poetry Review, Margie, and Whetstone. His most recent books, Leaning: A Poetics of Personal Relations (Left Coast Press), and Performance: An Alphabet of Performative Writing (Left Coast Press), and If the Truth Be Told (Sense Publications) call upon the poetic as a research strategy.

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