Quits

Let’s take a break. Let’s take
five. No, seven, in honor of
the seventh day. No, in honor
of the cigarette, which takes
exactly seven minutes to smoke 
all the way down. Let’s call it
quits. Let’s take a liquid lunch 
and not come back for days, 
weeks, months. Let’s not 
and say we did. I used to say that 
a lot as a kid: Let’s not and say we did. 
It sounded subversive and anarchic. 
I was big into anarchy and 
subversion. I quit high school 
and landed on my feet
in a college for creative fuck-ups 
on the Hudson. I quit marriages 
and landed on my feet in other 
marriages. I’m all for quitting.
Quitting gets a bad rap. The people
who tell you to never give up,
to keep fighting no matter what —
don’t you just want to slap them? 
A few of them are standing around
my hospital bed right now, saying
to keep fighting. I want to get up
and slap them, one by one, then 
hug them, hard, then lie back down 
and call it quits.

— PAUL HOSTOVSKY

Paul Hostovsky’s latest book of poems is Mostly (FutureCycle Press, 2021). His poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, 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.