Jeremy Rock

Base Numbers

I know it’s tired, but it’s the holidays 

and I want to say something about the tenth 

being taken from a hundred to bring the rest 

in line. I keep thinking of the men, short-strawed 


and serving, standing in for a brother. Oh, decem

you’re in our sums and our seasons, the gaps 

where martyrs would stand, shaped like bakers 

or fathers in yards catching sons from the air 


made collateral. I want to explain the way I feel 

by year’s end, the scientific notation into which 

I’ve learned we’ve all been funneled and this family 

of language is in all of it. The point of that cut 


was never the dead soldiers, but how you’d always 

feel the loss just enough to push through it.

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Jeremy Rock is pursuing an MFA at the University of Alabama and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Poet Lore, The Shore, Sugar House Review, and elsewhere.