Not of the Internal or of the Infinite by J.J. Steinfeld


On the hottest day of the last ten summers
a man is sprawled in his backyard hammock
in submission and retreat from concepts
not worrying about eternity or the infinite
unconcerned with anything larger
than the beads of sweat on his body
reminders of the natural order of things
cause and effect, here and there,
what goes up, must . . .
then he sees a tiny spider
on his big toe
perched there like a recalcitrant enemy
poisonous, the word poisonous, intrudes,
poisonous like a black widow spider,
it is a black widow spider, he thinks
not that he knows the ways
of such creatures
a tarantula he could recognize in an instant
and amidst his spidery thoughts
the recalcitrant enemy
starts its slow and methodical journey
up his leg
too terrified to move
to upset the venomous enemy
he freezes with fear
on the hottest day of the last ten summers
and before the spider
reaches his heart
his heart gives out
and his last thought
is not of the eternal or of the infinite
but the word poisonous.
A day later a young girl
a budding spider collector
finds the tiny creature
and lets it crawl onto her arm
and marvels at God’s delicate creation
and tells the tiny creature,
“You are my friend
my very best friend.”


Canadian poet, fiction writer, and playwright J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published 23 books, including An Unauthorized Biography of Being (Stories, Ekstasis Editions, 2016), Absurdity, Woe Is Me, Glory Be (Poetry, Guernica Editions, 2017), A Visit to the Kafka Café (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2018), Gregor Samsa Was Never in The Beatles (Stories, Ekstasis Editions, 2019), Morning Bafflement and Timeless Puzzlement (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions, 2020), Somewhat Absurd, Somehow Existential (Poetry, Guernica Editions, 2021), and Acting on the Island (Stories, Pottersfield Press, 2022).

Published 8/25/22