Chael Needle

the etiquette of the inanimate world

is simple
easy to learn

say please to what needs to give—
a silverware drawer stuck
every handle on every door

say thank you to what holds—
the colander, summer greens
the bed, your body
the wall, your head

welcome to what arrives—
overdue notices and supermarket
circulars
dust from all four corners
of the earth

goodbye to what disappears—
cold brew coffee down the drain
the lightning
in light bulbs

say sorry to what you hurt—
the chair leg you kick
by accident
the window you slam shut
the cold, too much

sorry to what hurts you—
the teapot and its belch of steam
the layabout knife that cuts
your fingertip
by surprise

say forgive me when you leave
all your friends behind
dressed in your deepest black
—and then return
two days later

please, thank you, welcome, goodbye
it costs you nothing
to be kind
—to speak
to what is dead
inside

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Chael Needle is a writer, editor and teacher living in Astoria, Queens. He is the coeditor, along with Diane Goettel, of the anthology Art & Understanding: Literature from the First Twenty Years of A&U. His fiction and poetry have been published in CallistoChelsea Station ReviewAdirondack Review and bottle rockets, among other publications.

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