Never thought Again

By John Reinhart

Never thought Again

would never leave –
Again thought Never
leaving was inevitable.
They lived so forever,
proving once again
that you can never
underestimate fatalism.

Now and Then met
casually with Off
and On for years.
The couples eventually
separated into two
new relationships:
Now Off, Then On,
as if we needed
a reminder
that Now and Then
were fickle.

Never Again scowled
or looked away
when they crossed paths
with the scandalous
Now Off, Then On
couples, while Now
Off speculated
Never envied them.
Again worried
it was true, but Never
was a friend so loyal


She Wants to Rewrite the Paper

Students rarely bring tears to my eyes, and then usually for the wrong reasons. Now and then. What is it we’re doing here anyway? Sisyphus pushed boulders up mountains eternally. That’s not my picture. Can’t be. But there’s our model. Push, criticize, push, judge, push, cajole, push.

Inspire. How do you inspire when the wood isn’t yet dry enough to spark or the winds resist your attempts? The alternative to shove is not carrot, not reason, but – trust? The most difficult human feat. We can only inspire with trust, and that trust must be born of beauty. The deepseated knowledge that seeds will sprout in sunlight, with enough water and warmth.

She thought her paper was crap. The entire paper was about failure. One failure after another. A list. A litany of examples, including the paper itself. Her fear of writing, of even starting to write, because failure sat begging at every corner.

Except for the first sentence.

She said she had never done things the way people expected her to. She had always worked things out her own way. She never relied on yellow brick roads, but hacked paths through rainforest, despite the bugs and their extra long teeth. For her, for this paper this was a sign of failure. For now.

But that first sentence set the tone and I couldn’t look down the list of failures. I looked askance. How can so many failures not correspond to incomparable growth? Under the surface still. Growth, success, surprise, step by step into the abyss, but never failure. Never stop letting the line out. Balanced upon a single steel cable attached to one crumbling chimney and the moon, carefully laid one step at a time.

The stairs may never lead anywhere but up.

But up.

The stars are still visible despite the neon on Main Street. Despite the cell phones and their text messages, surveys, and advertisements promising to make us perfect. Because we’re failures. But the moon is there every night. Lighting pebbles. Showing the way.

I wrote almost as much on her paper as she did, then included a poem. And a picture. That one sentence burned into my head. This student, a child still, really. And already branded, lost but certain of where she was supposed to be. That one sentence, and the fact that she did turn in the paper. She thought the paper was crap. And then she read my picture, and she skipped her next class to think about it.

She met me after school. She wants to rewrite the paper.

An arsonist by trade, John Reinhart lives on a farmlette in Colorado with his wife and children. He is a Frequent Contributor at the Songs of Eretz, editor at Poetry Nook, member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and was awarded the 2016 Horror Writers Association Dark Poetry Scholarship. His chapbook, “encircled,” is available from Prolific Press, and he has three more books due out in 2017.

More of his work is available at and


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