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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis 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.


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