“The Not-Here” By Joel Allegretti

Painting my Michelle Basic Hendry

Painting by Michelle Basic Hendry

The Not-Here


The attic windows whispered to the steamer trunk.

I heard it. I heard it.

“Not-here. Not-here.”

Aunt Fortuna’s camelhair coat nudged

The bald, legless mannequin. “Not-here.”

The basement boiler told the washing machine,

Which told the dryer, which told the laundry sink.

The letters spurted from the tap in 12-point

Times New Roman.


“By whom shall the Knower be known?

The self is described as not this, not that.”

The Upanishads


The attending physician informed the head nurse,

Who conveyed the data to the needle.

The analgesic was an effective dose of not-here.

A heart beats like the clock on the corridor wall,

The heart—his heart—reconsidered as analogue.

“Hour gone,” says the clock on the wall.

“Follow me,” the flatline says, “to the not-here,

Not the not-there, which is the now-here,

But the not-here … the not-here … the not-”

Joel Allegretti 3

Joel Allegretti is the author of four collections, most recently,Europa/Nippon/New York: Poems/Not-Poems (Poets Wear Prada, 2012). His second book, Father Silicon (The Poet’s Press), was selected by The Kansas City Star as one of 100 Noteworthy Books of 2006. Allegretti’s poetry has appeared in many national journals, including Smartish Pace, The New York Quarterly, Fulcrum and PANK. He wrote the texts for three song cycles by Frank Ezra Levy, whose work is released on Naxos American Classics. Allegretti is a member of the Academy of American Poets and ASCAP.

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