October 03, 2022





by Esteban Ismael



What’s hardest is free time,
no need 
to be anywhere midafternoon

meals gone uncooked, cold
iron pans kept 
in the unusable oven, 

a cracked block of cheese
in dry light, empty 
blue couch. 

No hurry, the motor idling
away from work
& no five-point schedule or 

overnight shifts 
trying to keep everything
from falling apart

while everyone else dreams  
face-plant, spread-eagle.
The mute living

room, untranslated air
gone to gather dust instead 
of the English channels.

When the time comes six 
months after a fear tingling 
like sand rushing 

down a vial
the shape of a morphine syringe,
the world’s quiet 

takes the form of order:
folded linens, clean floors.







Portrait of Esteban Ismael

Esteban Ismael (he/him) is a Pushcart-nominated poet, screenwriter, and instructor from National City. His poems have recently appeared in Poetry Northwest, Southern Humanities Review, Harvard Review Online, Puro Chicanx Writers of the 21st Century, Spillway, and Conduit, among other fine magazines. He can be found at



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