Ori Fienberg

Complications Expanding Toward One

After the recipe writing challenge.

After a day of meetings discussing
data-siloing in the for-profit arm of our
nonprofit corporation, which we could
avoid, as we have discussed, in chat
and official minutes, or by a bubbler,
yes, we could share data, but we all

know there’s nothing more powerful
than divulging a secret, which is why
poetry prevails despite capitalism:
who among us hasn’t ended our work
early, then aimed towards digital goals
before calling it a day. It’s important to

reach for the pixels with an open hand
to agree to the terms of service, even
if they’re not endearing. Sometimes I
read the news and I’m jealous: I wish
I could be subpoenaed to tell the whole
truth and nothing but the truth [so help

me mods], to drink Absolut vodka to
triple distill absolutely. I hear Catholics
do it regularly, but Jews must deal with
guilt differently to heal worlds. We must
choose our moments for self-care with
care. Acknowledge even the wafer thin

possibility of communion with ourselves
since we can’t count on any pensions
or reach as high as our deductibles. Of
course, it might come down to luck. I’ve
never even made my money back on a
Megamillions drawing, so I should not be

trusted on gut calls, just call and response
or singalongs. Anyone can sing, but fewer
carry a tune than can carry a grudge over
long distances. So many board flights of
tinfoil fancy, and somehow aluminum is
to be trusted, despite no fossil precedent

for metal birds. Maybe that’s how it works:
anyone can pull a fast one on the universe
if you do something that’s never been done,
if you write a poem. Sadly, who has time to
engineer their originality like that: if TurnItIn
hasn’t seen it, probably no one has. Once

we could Google-whack with bobby socks,
and ancient names, but we’ve trained our
neural network, and even vacuums to hear
us pair even the most unwilling nouns, verbs,
and adjectives. Words are for peasants, only
binary is pure, though lengthy. Simply we

must say β€œyes” to some things as often as
possible, and to others “no” even though we
may crave them. Hyper-partisanship lights
me up like vintage pinball, and who can make
time for the sheer volume of news β€” let alone
eating right, with ethics. Sure, I cook, but I

have no other hobbies appropriate for a man
of my age, so I’ve turned to alcohol, though
I hear it’s gone out of style (while Netflix has
made cigarettes cool again), and on a special
occasion I may indulge to excess β€” not quite
an ism, more a commitment, to communion

beyond myself, with aged spirits, of any kind.
In the long run, many poisons can damage
the liver, even as we enjoy them and kidneys
can only process so much. Tiny changes can
make a difference. Some people can cut out
sugar, and some people are certain about God.

I know I crave sugar more now than before, so
I could go either way. Regardless, I continue to
pray. I’m sure we can find enough moons for all,
even if not in this galaxy; I can’t conceive of a
loneliness more profound as to be wholly unique
the Milky Way stretching above us with so much

distant promise, but it’s small compared to our
universe: in nonillion stars there must be enough
similarity, as to match the crispness of each leaf,
for data and quality assurance purposes let alone
respect for originality. On some moon we cannot
see orchards tended by poets bear familiar fruit.

About the Author

Ori Fienberg is the author of Old Habits, New Markets (elsewhere press, 2021). His poetry, essays, and short stories appearing in venues including the Cincinnati Review, Essay Daily, Heavy Feather Review, Okay Donkey Magazine, Pank, Sixth Finch, and Subtropics. Ori teaches poetry writing for Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies.