the wax paper


Alan Toltzis

To unknot impossible snarls

in fine gold or silver chains,

don’t clutch or quarrel 

with lynchpins, no swift clean slice.

Don’t cast blame. 

Don’t think 

why or how. 

There’s a trick to it.

With two delicate probes,

poke and prod.

Enter its heart 

and feel it ease.

Tease the knot, 

between your fingers.

Fumble the precious links,

snagged and jumbled, 

to disrupt the course

of its convoluted coarseness. 

Over and again. Feel 

tangles loosen, unwind. 

Work it, watch

it puddle up

into a loopy muddle

as every twisted intricacy/complexity




 A sticky trickle, 

dried and sweet, 

clouds the wide shoulders 

and tapered 


of this twisted 

green glass bottle.

No deposit. 

No return. 

These days,

who wants the empties; 

worthless shells

that once compressed    

evanescent contents?

Instead we ignore or dispose 

of what is 


the inescapable, uncapped, upward bubbling release;

the pure rising; 

and final shimmering, iridescent pop before it all dissipates; 

leaving a still, 

flat essence 

waiting to evaporate

in the heat.


You didn’t need the sun to yawn above the horizon for evidence 

that night had long since gone.

Your heart’s prescience

told you things well in advance—

which plums to pick, which to leave

for three more days to ripen,

how to make me laugh or grieve,

and precisely when to bite me open, the red juice trickling down your chin.

Alan Toltzis is the author of two collections of poetry, 49 Aspects of Human Emotion and The Last Commandment. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications including, Hummingbird, Right Hand Pointing, IthacaLit, r.k.v.r.y. Quarterly, and North of Oxford.

Find him online at