Paul Hostovsky


Now I would rather remember life than live it.
I would rather imagine life than live it.
I would rather watch life going on from the sidelines
in a comfortable chair than stand in the midst of life
living it. And maybe that strikes you as sad
or perverse. And maybe I’m kind of a perv
because I’d rather watch some young people making love
than make love myself. And I would rather
read a poem about bicycles than ride a bicycle — I am done
riding bicycles. I am done making love. I am,
sadly, too old for that shit now. But I will never
be too old for the memory, or the thought, or the idea
of making love. Or the word bicycles, which is
as good a word as any, and better than most. In fact,
I want bicycles to be my last word, my dying word —
not I love you, or bless you, or God forgive me,
but bicycles. And the people standing over me —
if there are any people standing over me at the last —
will look at each other and ask if they heard me right —
“Did he say bicycles?” “Yes, it sounded like bicycles” —
as I lie on my deathbed remembering or imagining
riding our bicycles in a summer rain, then abandoning them
on the edge of a wheat field, and taking off all our clothes
because it was raining and we were already soaked
and hot and young and sweating–and running
naked through that field in the rain, and then, breathless,
sinking down in the field and making love. I don’t
want to be in the field, in the rain, with the bugs and spiders
and rodents, the roots and stalks digging into my skin,
the itchy stems and leaves, a rat snake slithering past
and me freaking out and losing my erection–I just
want to remember or imagine those two overturned bicycles
abandoned on the edge of a field, in which we were young
and soaked and happy and making love, kickstands
pointing randomly up toward heaven.

PAUL HOSTOVSKY’s poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, the FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize, and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. He makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter.

More by Paul Hostovsky:

Author’s Website
Prose in Two Hawks Quarterly
Poem in Beaver Magazine
Poem in Scapegoat Review