Definition: one who is learning the alphabet

Alchemical solutions: lead + silver=gold?
Bauxite? Something magical. That’s how
counting ABCs seems. Don’t
deny it. You’ve thought about it too. How
equidistant the thing is: 26 letters?
Freak accident that puts m and n in the middle,
guts splayed like descenders (j, q, p, y, g),
hell if I know why f goes before e,
idiosyncrasy of English that leaves me baffled,
Jell-o out of mold, clinging to a children’s tune
karaoke-style to help remember where to put
Li-Young Lee on a shelf. Don’t even get
me started on record stores. How the rows
nimble out in all directions, my fingers
originate at the bottom and go up, then
paddle their way back down without
question, or even a hint of
reason. And where exactly is Stevens,
Sufjan? Before or after Cat? I think
theodicy has its place but in the Duke
University Library, where can I find it?
Veering away from theogeny, theocratic
world empires, or Theseus. Keep it simple.
X marks the spot. I want to know what I’m
yearning for and find it. The way a hare
zags a field, the way j follows i.




Todd Osborne was born in Nashville, TN, and holds an MFA in poetry from Oklahoma State University. His poetry has previously appeared or is forthcoming at The Missouri Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Big Muddy, Juked, and elsewhere. He currently lives and writes in Hattiesburg, MS, where he is pursuing a PhD at the University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Writers.