Literary Yard

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‘The Many Reasons to Kill a Spider’ and other poems

By: Ethan Goffman

The Many Reasons to Kill a Spider

After hauling junk out of the shed one sickly sticky sweaty morning, separating it into trash and salvageable goods, scrubbing the filthiest corners, ending up coated in grease and dirt, I look forward to a relaxing shower. Who should greet me in the tub but a spider, all legs and attitude. Should I just smash it and throw it out? There are many good reasons:
• I am overheated, filthy and exhausted.
• There are hundreds of billions of spiders in the world—what is one more or less?
• If I capture it and put it outside, it might very well die soon anyway.
• Spiders are primitive creatures—as far as we know, they have extremely limited consciousness, no inner life, no understanding of art and music, no empathy or compassion.
• They don’t even pay rent. Who the hell do they think they are, breaking into houses that people have spent years saving for, decades paying off, gone to great time and expense to make lovely and livable?
• The spider and its progeny might just sneak into the house again, resurrecting the sad decision-making process of whether they live or die.
I sigh, retrieve a jar from a high cabinet in the kitchen, return to the bathroom, scoop the spider catching it deftly, and set it outside for the next chapter of its doubtless short and insignificant life.
The spider scuttles away without even thanking me.


I and Everyone I Love Will Die

Thelma, at the ripe age of 20,
wanders in pathetic circles,
blind, or suffering a mild stroke or dementia,
or all three,
the veterinarian isn’t sure.

Now, curled up in a tabby ball,
her enormous purr that could move mountains
body weight 5.7 pounds,
she sleeps, a tiny dying angel.

I was recently diagnosed with
like so many conditions
treatable these days.
Each evening I force stinging drops into my
gasping eyes
staving off the inevitable
blindness, confusion, diminished mental function
loss of self,

like King Lear lost upon the heath, wandering
in desperate circles,
unlike King Lear in that
I’m not important enough,
nor foolish enough,
for a tragic fall.


Ethan Goffman is the author of the poetry collections I Garden Weeds (Cyberwit, 2021) and Words for Things Left Unsaid (Kelsay Books, 2020) as well as the flash fiction collection Dreamscapes (UnCollected Press, 2021). I Garden Weeds is 2nd place winner of the Taj Mahal Review Poetry Prize. Ethan is co-founder of It Takes a Community, which brings poetry to Montgomery College students and nearby residents, and is founder and producer of the Poetry & Planet podcast on Ethan also writes nonfiction on transportation alternatives for Greater Greater Washington and other publications.

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