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A Graceful Idea Broken

I heard someone say

the gunfire was distant.

As distant as what?

I asked in a fit of madness

or something resembling

a graceful idea broken.   

As distant as hope

which is further

than hopelessness.

How do you measure these things

in the night

as the distant gunfire

comes closer

and you are busy

counting the letters

in words such as

hope and hopelessness?

Another starts to count bullets

still another

counting those who are counting

there is a rumour

that one can count God’s lies

impossible, you scream,

a scream full of

hope and hopelessness.

I must cease my words

the gunfire is at hand

like a lie from God

that cannot be counted.


Canadian poet, fiction writer, and playwright J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island. His 24 books, include An Unauthorized Biography of Being (Stories, Ekstasis Editions, 2016), Absurdity, Woe Is Me, Glory Be (Poetry, Guernica Editions, 2017), A Visit to the Kafka Café (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2018), Gregor Samsa Was Never in The Beatles (Stories, Ekstasis Editions, 2019), Morning Bafflement and Timeless Puzzlement (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2020), Somewhat Absurd, Somehow Existential (Poetry, Guernica Editions, 2021), Acting on the Island (Stories, Pottersfield Press, 2022), and As You Continue to Wait (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2022). His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies internationally, and over 60 of his one-act plays and a handful of full-length plays have been performed in Canada and the United States.


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