David Galef



When you ask her to send the email by noon,
She rolls her eyes and mutters, “Whatever.”
Is the point that she’ll do anything?
Of course, what she really means is “Never.”

When the system is down for the third time that day,
And IT, when called, says, “It is what it is,”
Sure, it’s a comment on outdated software,
But it also means clearly, the problem’s not his.

When you’re looking around for some kind of approval,
And the slow response is a measured “O-kay…”
Does that represent a wholesale endorsement,
Or is it, let’s face it, “I’d prefer not to say”?

And should you pursue this tiresome matter
To where they pronounce in that way, “We get it,”
Does that indicate an acceptance of sorts,
Or is it just rude, and they don’t regret it?

So you ask your new ex if she really hates you,
And the answer comes back as “Um, pretty much.”
What that signifies plain as day is “a great deal,”
Suggesting a subject that you shouldn’t touch.

Why, when you start an exciting new project,
Does your co-worker smile and say, “Good luck with that!”
It’s obviously not a real wish for success.
It’s an answer that galls, a response all too pat.

And if you proceed uneasily forward,
The co-worker adds, “How’s that working for you?”
Why are people so snarky, with malice aforethought?
Of course, I use all of those phrases, too.

Though better known as a fiction writer, David Galef has published a boatload of poems in The Yale Review, ShenandoahWitnessMeasure, etc., and was once the featured poet in Light. His two poetry books are Flaws and Kanji Poems, his two poem chapbooks Lists and Apocalypses. He’s a professor of English and the creative writing program director at Montclair State U. He is also the editor of Vestal Review, the oldest flash fiction magazine on the planet.