Let Me Count the Ways

by Adrienne Unger

No. Let me make myself perfectly
clear: No, the sideways road from,
let me think about it a little more

and get back to you on this. No,
the more aggressive form of, let me see
what I can do
, or I can’t promise you

anything. If you want to stay friends,
the proper conjunction would be,
I’d love to, but. Sincerity dangles

like a hanging chad,
a yea vote almost cast, so take
the mulligan and I’ll try to

pencil you in. If the response is,
you’ve got a future, say thank you,
pack your bags and leave. In my family,

we are partial to, hell no!
usually followed by a small cough
and a pursed expression that indicates

the absurdity of the preceding question.
The politic say yes, then maneuver
circumstances—time of day, weather

fronts, etc., to negate the air
of the affirmative, laying the fault on
someone else’s tab. Let’s put a pin in it,

attach your gaping desires upon
a small prickly implement that draws
blood and can deflate the buoyant

at a depressing rate. Pin a tail on
that donkey! But recognize when you
are in the presence of the genuine

no, one spawned from cold, hard fact, like
the two items of differing weight that
still fall at the same speed, remember

the crystalline patterns of snow
do not repeat, and you will
never enter this house again.

Published on June 20, 2014