★ ★ ★ ★


Stopped in the Street

A big, knowing, erudite
(not to mention formidable
and imposing)
emissary from a secret place
of dreams, desires, fantasies,
and all those other thoughts
that make the plodding
and endless trudging to nowhere
somewhat endurable
or at least manageable
hands me a notepad and pen
and orders me to write
neatly and precisely
my ten most cherished memories
not to take too long about it
other plodders and trudgers to survey
we all have our jobs to do
whether early in the morning
or the darkest part of the night.

I quickly jot down three
strain for a fourth
look toward a sky
that appears ghostly
then throw the notepad and pen
in the face of the emissary
punished of course
swifter than I could have imagined
threatened with even worse
but I smile
knowing I now have
a memory that will make my list
next time I get stopped
in the street
by anyone
big, knowing,
and erudite.

Photo by Brenda Whiteway

Canadian fiction writer, poet, and playwright J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published seventeen books, including Should the Word Hell Be Capitalized? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Would You Hide Me? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Misshapenness (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), Identity Dreams and Memory Sounds (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), Madhouses in Heaven, Castles in Hell (Stories, Ekstasis Editions), and An Unauthorized Biography of Being (110 Short Fictions Hovering Between the Absurd and the Existential, Ekstasis Editions). His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies internationally, and over fifty of his one-act plays and a handful of full-length plays have been performed in North America.