He came between us, but not like a secret love affair

there’s nothing secret about him

there’s no affair

we can see him though he’s absence

not his absence                                    your absence.


my absence.


our absence from ourselves.

not our own selves, but the double self we 

used to share when we were you and me

until he split           this                        double self

             split                    it            into two

             split                        it but              without        breaking

             split                  it without                breaking us

             split us without breaking us up

                                                   , because that’s not in his power to do(!)* 

                                     *or is it?


He wedged the whole Atlantic between us

invited me to a day at the beach

on his briefs well-entertained raccoons

munch popcorn out of trashcans

waiting for me to make a move after

I used all my money to buy

freezers and fridges, lined them up

on the beach in August facing the water

I opened the doors hoping the cold

would expand, freeze a corridor into the sea

a bridge of ice that I could traverse

with a dogsleigh. Instead I am the

owner of twelve freezers at the beach

and he uses them to store popsicles

there goes my plan 

     to see you

there goes my plan 

    to save the planet

          with colossal fridges

                                                  and a couple of nuclear power plants

meanwhile he juggles melons near the water

heels and ankles slowly disappearing

in the tide


Sand is clogging my

bamboo straw as I try to drink the fucking thing

gulping down salt and foam and more salt

until my stomache forces me to slow down

I am not convinced by the idea. How could there be an “us” 

with all the fish and whales on our conscience(?) Not to

forget the seals, they move so awkwardly on land

like bouncing jelly balloons with a snout

now he rolls through the sand pretending to be one

wiggling every part of his body


Imagine once the ocean is gone, we could

smell the trash at the bottom

there would be a motorway from

One side                       to                              the otheR

with a fuel stop in Iceland: that’s where we’d meet

for a sandwich, pre-packed ready made

munching in the cold next to the sign that says

                         no smoking (CAUSE YOU COULD BLOW US ALL UP YOU IDIOT)

but in Icelandic so it looks cool against

the epic scenery of volcanoes and glaciers behind us

or just volcanoes soon, I guess


Out among the waves I spot him pretending

to be a jellyfish; salt/algae/flotsam continue to clog

my straw clog my intestines fill my lungs no way 

we can pull it off like this


On a sandbank close to shore

he is trying to smooch a seagull

and I wonder if he knows they put

cables under the sea. I might

download good compression 

software and 

                          compress my  self  so I could send it to you

                    on the other

side; float with all the data (i’ll join the zeros over the ones cause I 

want to sit next to likeminded people) Imagine 

breezing along with all the porn on the bottom of the ocean

and the e-mails/credit card data/tweets/blog posts/amazon

orders/flight bookings but overtaking the planes 

by miles, racing with the light

               a free bird gliding forward at speed

                         [ inside an optical fibre cable                        that is

                           inside silicon jelly                                           that is

                           inside high-strength steel wires                that is

                           inside a copper sheath                                  that is

                           insulated by polyethylene                             that is

                           bedded in nylon yarn                                      that is

                           protected by galvanized armor wires        that is

                           wrapped in tar-soaked nylon                       that is

                           pressed against the bottom of the sea by the weight                               of an entire ocean ]

you’d get the ping sound of your inbox

I’d be so ready to be unpacked stored on a stick or

loaded into a VR system or at least a tamagotchi

and carried around in your pocket finally being more

than the most responsive avatar in your messenger app


He stuffs his mouth with a mushroom

and hums a jingle, pretending to grow

like Mario. The Atlantic is here to

stay, together with every single

mile and metre filling the void

between you and me. I am 

afraid he will continue 

to mock us

until                                      your absence


                 my absence

                               our absence


                                                feels real.

Martin Breul

Martin Breul currently lives and writes in Montréal. His works have appeared in print and online in Wet Grain, The Wild Word, the Riverbed Review, Speculative Books, The Honest Ulsterman, and others. In 2021 he received the Mona Elaine Adilman Poetry Prize at McGill University. Twitter: @BreulMartin.

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