David Galef


How Are Things?

First things first:
As things stand,
Things are seldom what they seem.
Things may not go as planned.

The best things come in small packages.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch.
But the best things in life are free—
The thing is, that’s my hunch.

Things are looking up,
But all things come to an end.
In the grand scheme of things,
There’s nothing like a friend.

If you start seeing things,
Things that go bump in the night,
A thingamajig, a thingamabob,
And things that give you a fright,

Don’t make a big thing of it.
Use moderation in all things,
Not one damned thing after another.
Most things are just small things.

Get into the swing of things,
Go and do your own thing,
Always in the thick of things,
The latest thing or any old thing.

You don’t know the first thing about me.
Maybe you’ve got better things to do,
But all things considered,
I could tell you a thing or two.


On Friday nights, instead of going out,
I rehash failures from the last decade:
My two romantic marriages, about
Which all that I can say is “flowers fade”;
The business partners I took on because
I thought they had an interest in my firm;
My quondam friends, who merit much applause
For shunning me like some infectious germ.
Even the mutt I rescued from the pound
Stayed true to type and bit the hand that fed.
The lesson is succinct, if not profound:
Not to trust a soul till I am dead.
But lest I pass away here all alone,
Just one more shot? I reach to dial the phone.

David Galef is a shameless eclectic, with over a dozen books in two dozen directions, including the novel Flesh, the short story collection My Date with Neanderthal Woman, and the poetry collections Flaws and Kanji Poems. Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook is forthcoming from Columbia University Press in fall 2016. He is a professor of English and the creative writing program director at Montclair State University.