Paul Hostovsky


My country isn't
my country because
I'm not myself.
I haven't been myself since
I don't know when.
My mother said
just be yourself.
My father was
himself all his life
and everyone loved him.
But I loved
the smell of the rain
before the rain
more than the rain itself.
And I lived
in the country of
myself all my life.
The food was bad.
The language odd.
The peace unsteady.
So I moved
to the country of
I'm not myself.
To the country of
I don't know who
and I don't know what
I am. And I am
finally home.
There always was
that side of me
That is the side
that I am on.
I love my country.
I would die for my country.
But my country isn't
my country and I am
not myself.


The good news is
you're wrong.
About everything.
The bad news is
not what you thought.
The good news is
not what you thought.
That's the good news.
And it's greater
than you know.
And it's greater
that you can imagine.
You can't imagine
being wrong about
everything. Can you?
That's why the good news
is so unimaginable.
For starters, you're wrong
about who you are,
about what you are,
and where you are,
and what you are doing,
and what you think is being
done to you. I don't
know about you but
for some of us
that's very good news.
I'm not what I thought.
You're not what I thought.
You're not what you thought
either. And neither is
your mother. You needn't
figure it out. You needn't
bother. You need do nothing
but plead ignorance
at every turn,
and keep returning,
keep opening
to the great
good news.


You look like someone just squished your kitten
on purpose. Come sit down, what's wrong
with the world has always been wrong. It's you
who are changed now. The world is the same
as yesterday when it retired to a quiet corner
of its cage with your kitten, in love and immensely
shy, sighing low as it lipped a reticulate leaf
and gazed with a rapt and dumb tenderness. Now
you gaze off into space in sorrow and despair
at something no longer there, because something
that was always there and will always be there
is picking its teeth with the same leaf in a different
corner now. You used to say there is no evil, only
lack of love. You will say it's just semantics now
that nothing anyone can say means anything at all.


On Tuesday we might
dissect a squid.
A squid is an invertebrate.
It's squishy and has
an outer protective shell
called an exoskeleton.
It has a mantle and a jet
It's a mollusk.
Mollusk is a phylum.
There are lots of species
in a phylum
but there are only 8 phyla
in the whole thing,
and California has the most
popular people
because they're worth
55 electoral votes,
and to be the president
you have to be born
in America,
and you have to go
to an electoral college,
and you have to have
a spine.


Expensive delicate boat
with a hundred chances on board
floats above the drowned brown
pennies with their one chance each
piled on top of each other
on the abject bottom.

It shivers, wavers, turns
over, capsizes and the green
president goes under and in
God we trust and all that fancy
fleur de lis amounting to a wish
that was taken for granted,
but was not granted.

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