C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

What’s Missing in This Calculation

By: Pat Phillips West


I couldn’t tell you now

what possessed me

to keep all these scribbled figures—

a metric of total cases, new cases,

total deaths, new deaths.


Bruised and roughened pages,

with crossed out lines

and smudged black erasures.

A journal, its spine broken

from opening and closing—

the daily toll I save

like pennies in a jar,

unspent. A meager noting

when what’s missing


in this calculation

is an alleluia or a lullaby

for the tired dead—

thousands of confused souls

crowding the bardo. Spirits rocking

side to side, listening for God

be with you, goodbye,

a final caress, the sound

of a bell receding into silence,


some intersection with

those left behind

who navigate a labyrinth

of grief: heads bowed,

hearts open, words unspoken—

a small fire on the tongue

that burns as only

the cold can burn.





Pat Phillips West's work appears in various journals including: Persimmon Tree, The Inquisitive Eater New School Food, Haunted Waters Press, Clover, a Literary Rag, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, and elsewhere. She has received multiple Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominations.