Joe Hall


Dear Rob, 

I know tomorrow you are getting your leg amputated
but right now you are taking a placement exam
in a computer lab by the downtown 

bus station in the hope that you can start
banking credits toward a drug counseling
certificate if only you can blink away

the white hot pin-holes boiling
their way through some solve for X equation
on your leg’s last living day. Rob, I know

this is probably bad timing but I
wanted to tell you the Biosphere—you
know—that dome of triangles by the river—

well, they’ve got a picture of you in their display
on global warming and the city—you’re slipping on ice
and your ass crack is hanging out

and the display doesn’t mention cutting carbon
and only farts out solutions
to the end of the world  

that only end the world. Rob, I felt like
this is the kind of thing you’d want to know,
and I still think about what you told me

in rehab, when you were only eating cornflakes:
that part of the pleasure of hearing
someone pour the liquid of a melody

from an instrument is knowing one day
it will be outmoded. No one will play it again. 
Anyway, Rob, you’ll probably get this after your surgery. 

I hope you did good on the test. 
Your friend, 

Joe Hall is a writer, researcher, and educator in Ithaca and Buffalo, NY. He's the author of three books of poetry on Black Ocean Press: Pigafetta Is My Wife (2010), The Devotional Poems (2013), and Someone's Utopia (2018). He's also written two collaborative chapbooks with Cheryl Quimba and a books of poems with Chad Hardy, The Container Store Vols I & II (2012). You can follow him at