Alaina Ferris



Is That Not a Pixel in My Armchair?


You stare into the ether knowing
You will never touch it,
Forsaking your curiosity
Like a frozen chord.
This is what not touching feels like.
This is what not kissing feels like.
This is what not talking feels like,
What not dressing feels like.
This is what not writing feels like,
What not composing feels like,
What not reading feels like,
What not hearing feels like,
What not stoning feels like.
This is what not screaming feels like,
Not the soft wood feels like.
This is not the light,
Not capability,
Nor the hour
When the air changes to crisp autumnal brightness.
No, this is not what autumn feels like,
Not the splendour of seasonal adjustment,
Wishing you would stand still,
The air awash over your cheek.
This is what a jar of cold milk feels like,
Like a dull chamber feels like,
Like a swiftness, softness feels like,
Vast-like, suffocating-like.
This is not Romance.
This is the wet pupil staring fixed.

This is not healthy.
I am okay, but this is not healthy.
My imagination is dim, for, in the city,
That screech cannot be a luxurious and wild animal,
Only a dying human.
That is, I hope, not the sound
Of a dying human.
This is what it feels like to have you
Lean over my shoulder
And experience nothing.
This is what not having sex feels like.
This is what alcoholism feels like.
This is not what masturbating feels like,
Because the brain is connected to the body
And if I were to have, would I not know?
This is what not feeling feels like,
Like having had feels like
The many things that have been done
To me and this is not what I am feeling.
Is my brain, then, not connected to my body?
Is this not real life?
Have I been lied to about reality?
The screen at times, more:

This is the feeling of the dissatisfying infinite,
The mortal cascade.
This is pulling our hair out of each others’ mouths.
This is not restarting the level.
This is having never had.
This is not virtual.

<you cannot camp here>
<you cannot restart>
<you cannot quit in combat>

Sometimes, I grab the computer’s cord and pull it like a root.


Alaina Ferris lives in Brooklyn, where she composes for theater and teaches piano. Her chapbook, While Listening, was released by The Operating System in 2016. She holds a B.A. in Music and Creative Writing from the University of Denver and an M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University.

Return to Issue 3