about the author

Alex Chertok has work published or forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, Barrow Street, Bat City Review, Linebreak, 32 Poems, The Journal, Zone 3, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others. He was awarded a fellowship to the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and has recently completed his MFA degree at Cornell University, where he was also a Lecturer.


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Before the prothalamion

Alex Chertok



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The morning’s cold and bright to step into.
My face feels like hands pulling from the fridge
and holding for a while a water jug’s
fat torso till—how can I go on?
Morning stops me dead. Nothing’s happened yet
but may, or will, it will, without a lick
of doubt some life will happen, will splinter,

a limb hewed from a tree, how can it not,
or a memory flensed from its body.
Noon hasn’t downpoured yet, its light hasn’t
moonlighted tonight as the moon, tomorrow
hasn’t spluttered awake. Morning makes
a mountain. From behind we move, two fogs
wind tries to splint—near touch—at least toward it.





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