Nothing is great
Nothing is similar
only by convention.
If they look more like ants than flies.
If they saw you from across the square, making notes.
If the air then grew warm with want, with anticipation.
If that’s how it started.
You said you name things according to intention.
You said ‘an organising principle emerges’.
You said ‘they move as a single body’.
If a white ant is a biter-off, a comma, a finger traced across the page.
If one follows you home and asks to come in.
If your hesitation gives the wrong impression.
If there’s no place to spit in a rich man’s house but his face.
You said you saw his cupness and his tableness.
You said they’re in the woodwork now.
You said: ‘no thoughts give them away’.
If they split into separate factions and issued a set of demands.
If they found the doors nailed shut.
If meaning depends on the truth conditions of the proposition.
If dignity depends on patience.
You said only teeth and fists clench.
You said only heads and tongues loll.
You said ‘every month has its ides’.
If you worked to get a view over the wall.
If the smoke hung like a swarm.
If you could see no further than you might throw a rock.
If there’s only one method for managing a crowd.
You said conscription is a writing with.
You said the text knows things the author doesn’t.
You said ‘no gesture without import’.
If you consider it first under the profile of redness, then as a liquid.
If the river you step into is not the one in which you stand.
If regret presumes things could’ve been different.
If everything is water.
You said thought is iterative and anguish is necessarily wet.
You said you couldn’t find the words, that the borders were porous.
You said: ‘the whole alters the parts’.
If progress is measured in mouthfuls.
If a hypothetical is predicated on a possibility.
If they ate away the foundations and unmade the category from within.
If at least they no longer belong to the emperor.
Aden Rolfe’s debut collection of poetry and essay, False Nostalgia, won the 2017 Mary Gilmore Award and Mascara’s Best Avant-Garde Poetry Book of the Year Award. He’s currently working on his second book, The Heavenly Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge.