David Joez Villaverde

Zero As a Verb                  

For Karla Lamb




A. I use the word “ontologically” 2-3 times a day. Everyday. A quick google search reveals many terrible poems titled “Anatomy of a Breakup.” I am a snob even in grief. I’m still not sure what I’ll miss the most, but I know I’ll miss the leftovers. My horoscope tells me to find meaning in a stochastic universe. I miss the leftovers already.

B. It’s easier to become petty than you might think. Just remember that everything is important. I worry about the me that’s been secretly keeping track of who technically owns the cutlery. I am trying to determine what constitutes an acceptable amount of theft following a conscious uncoupling. I am scared of the me that hides the Netflix password, steals your tweezers. I am preemptively insufferable.

C. I think about loss in terms of things. I talk about heartbreak in terms of “return on investment” and “accrued value.” There are moldy peaches in the fridge, escabeche you refused to eat. I’ve been saying “dust is 90% skin and hair” for my entire adult life. There is a pink Post-it on my desk that reads “a newel remembered with life.” It would have been a good metaphor if we hadn’t lived on the first floor.


Please Note: I long to be better. Non-hierarchical. That which apprehends multiplicities. I long for deflation, ego-death, a god worth believing in. I want saving. I want to know what I mean when I say I love you.




2.1 You refer to the nine of swords as the Lord of Cruelty. Tonight the moon is waxing gibbous but you won’t look up, and if you did, you wouldn’t see it cloudbound.


2.2 You want to believe in palmistry but that takes too much effort. If you did you’d see heartline as a deep and broken thing, girdle of Venus as ten of swords. In three days the moon will be full and I assume you will take this to mean something, but then again I’m always making assumptions.


2.3 You fear the unknown, fear your fate is etched in epidermis, fear the Jersey gypsy meant ‘sanguine handshake’ in a pejorative sense. There are always walls closing in, reptilians running for office. According to pseudoscience, misfortune resides somewhere near the 2nd palmar interosseus muscle.


2.4 I too want to believe. I too am scared of the life hachured on your palm. I am concerned about my own lack of a liver line, what that connotes.


IV. All of this and still the earth could be a pretty good place from time to time. When it   wasn’t humid. Meteorologists drew isotachs with blood on maps made of skin. Their proximity to truth, always something of dispute.


2.5 Draw a card from the bottom of the deck. In the coming nights you might remember what it means to need or how rice tastes when it’s nearly uncooked. Trace the lines on your face and go to sleep.


Trois moins trois.


I. He tells me to find my breath. Weaponize love, militarize acceptance, make friends with my monsters.

II. I tell him I don’t think there is anything more spiritual than putting like with like, transom with transom, corbel with corbel. He chuckles.

III. We speak of passerine migration, the nature of addiction.

a. A ferry turns slowly in the Ohio, a funicular crawls up the mountain.

b. Blue jays are smart, he says, but they are assholes.


David Joez Villaverde has recently been published in Wigleaf, 100 Word Short Story, Adbusters, After the Pause, Cheap Pop, and Hoot. He lives in Pittsburgh as an editor for the After Happy Hour Review. He can be found at schadenfreudeanslip.com.


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