Two Poems by Alexander Lazarus Wolff

These two poems by Alexander Lazarus Wolff address the psychology of the human experience. In essence, both of these poems address desire…

by: Alexander Lazarus Wolff

Consider the Fly

Cars fly by buildings sprayed with neon
helices of graffiti, intricate loops

that bend and weave together 
as if they were cursive letters.

I stand up and come out of the alley, leaving
behind the gutted building on which I leaned

while smoking my cigarette. I take a seat 
on the curb, shielded from the sun 

by a 1978 Mercury Capri infected by rust. Nearby, 
a homeless man rattles his cup of change.

The people rush through the steam 
floating upward from the grates in the sidewalk.

For two weeks now, I’ve come here daily to smoke,
watching as throngs of people sweep down the streets.

There is something that is both pleasing 
and disconcerting at being unnoticed.

Consider, for instance, being a fly
like one of those buzzing around the homeless

man’s head. Your existence is not even recognized,
just a mere swat of the hand is all that you’ll get

before flying off to some distant place.
All that you were was a minor annoyance,

if you’re even noticed at all. In that case,
is gaining the attention of another worthwhile?

I toss my cigarette butt into one of the garbage bins
before heading home. The sun glares at me, 

my sole spectator, as it glazes me with heat.
In the distance, between the steel girders

and beyond the train tracks, the James River
rushes and roars as light spangles the water.

A spot of spilled Merlot
on a white tablecloth. Carmine:

the blood in our veins
is not so pure. We are not like Christ,

our blood a sacrament.
We have no reason to be crucified, no

passion that would merit
an ultimate sacrifice. We are not holy.

Our purpose is to live 
for ourselves, gulping from the crystal 

cup with its delicate stem 
of fluted glass.

But this wine cannot cleanse. 
Sin is our only escape:

that obliteration of the self
that is drunkenness. Let the haze

seep in 
from your peripheral vision.

Watch as the world fades
like a photograph in the sun;

drink up and let
the hours dissolve.

Alexander Lazarus Wolff is a writer of poetry and creative nonfiction. His work has been published or is forthcoming in The Best American Poetry online, The Citron Review, NDQ, Black Fox Literary Magazine, South Florida Poetry Journal, Serotonin, and elsewhere. He was awarded first place in the Poetry Society of Virginia’s Undergraduate Award. He is a poetry editor for The Plentitudes and is an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary. You can find him and more of his work on Facebook:  on Instagram: @wolffalex108 and at

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