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Alex Hoffman Jun 2017
I lie awake in the wooden room
I have constructed in the woods
dreaming of pretty things.

Knots like ochre eyes stare down from the oak wood panelling.
Outside, the wind brushes up against the fogged glass
laid into the side of my house,
a feeble proxy to the coyotes song
rippling through the ballooning darkness.

I built this home, all 275 square feet,
lugging tools and supplies through the barren acres.
I laid each brick into the fat black earth
preparing the foundation,
laying my life into it
nailing each board around me.

When spring rolled in the trilliums poked
through the earth to admire the commotion.
Later came their friends: the mountain-pride, 
buttercups and harlequin lupine.

In my dreams, the lupine could become a cloak of royal silk
wrapped around me,
the King.

Golden ore and stalks of silver
poking through the earth
where trilliums once grew.

That night I dreamt of pretty things
Shiny things still blotched my vision in those days.
I didn’t yet have a roof to stare at
late into the night, and the stars
burned through the treetops and into my

Daylight was for building.
Laying the hatchet into wood
driving wood into frames,
with little metal nails from the hardware store
many acres away

Where men bought sidings and rope
for homes with Ikea furniture,
their wives wearing sapphire rings
and golden hoops
and all the pretty little things
I dreamt about out here,
in the forest.

Here, where sun cascades
through my windows in the early dawn.
So I close my eyes, and
decorate the silence with dreams
of pretty, pretty things.
Alex Hoffman Sep 2016
Droplets of sweat flattened on our foreheads under the weight of a mid-August sun—flattened into ovals of sticky sodium, catching specks of stray dirt swept into the air from the passing semi’s and transport trucks, whipping the wind into torrents of chalky highway dust.

Pressed high against the skies curved plain, we used our thumbs to browse the passing cars like pages of an anthology enclosed by a narrow spine of asphalt.

But when one pulled onto the shoulder and we approached the passenger side window, we too were ****** with the expectation and appeal of a library—mutually eager in the labour of conversation for the currency of experience.

For a moment, as the prairie receded in the side mirrors, our car became the baseline of a frantic cardiogram, crowded by the landscape of rising granite walls and low-hanging canyons, and the space between our separate lives closed like parallel lines drawn by gravity to a magnetic core.

We pushed our destination west, as far as it would go, safe on the heels of expectation. In motion the passing towns crackled like neurotransmitters firing signals over axons of black asphalt. But each time the car slowed to release us, one more they faded into a rancid stasis, that, once more, we aimed only to depart.
After a summer hitchhiking across Canada.
Alex Hoffman Mar 2016
I think it’s important to make peace with your long line of perpetually confused and self-indulgent ancestry once grasping at and fumbling through a life at which they, preceding you, assumed they occupied the centre of and sought to prove this to mostly anyone, with rapacious might and puerile visions of their own success story, which no matter how successful would always only occupy the dark corners of their blood-successors’ historical records of themselves, which is to say you, adding them up with other people who were once important to them and stuffing them into some numerical equation on which they occupy the left, and you the right side of the equal-sign, but all of which exists in the vast and endless vicissitude of spinning void, of which you both (and us all) occupy some cosmic equivalence (and importance) of the universes stray skin-cell, somewhere on the foot perhaps, unconsidered and left alone until we all disappear into the casket of an unrecorded history.
Alex Hoffman Mar 2016
8:00 AM, Monday, Nov. 14th, 2016: Alarm goes off.

He rag-dolls himself across the flat. Past the paintings that huddle on the floor against the walls, past the unpacked boxes concaving from dust and into the shower where he keeps the alarm clock and pliers to turn on the broken shower handle. The bed is a place where thoughts unravel like yarn that one can never quite ravel back to its former integrity, so he doesn’t like to stay there long. Instead he concentrates on the two-day **** smell that trademarks his bathroom. Always two-day ****? He thinks. Never one-day?

“WHAAAP WHAAAP Click” he hits the alarm with the edge of his fist and starts the water, which hits the floor of the tub in a carbonated rattle that emulates the patter of the office water cooler being rinsed and refilled, rinsed and refilled for the last twelve years (his personal duration with the company). Avoiding the water cooler is thirsty work but allows him to dodge creepy office gossip. It is enough in the morning to have to shout “good morning!” in a practiced timbre and twist one’s face into a look of serenity to flaunt at coworkers. These, at least, he’s mastered. He thinks practicing these last two items out loud.

Feeling reasonably damp he shuts off the water, towels down, climbs into the clothing he set out the night prior, grabs his computer bag (also pre-stocked/sorted) and marches through the front door, hair still damp, climbing through the frozen city air coloured by police sirens and the familiar song of commuter impatience and into his Honda, saturated in tree-air-freshener fumes.

The radio: “BOW CHIKA! BOW CHIKA! Bow Bow HEY!….Clap along if you feel like a room without a….” bludgeons him through the stereo so he cranks it louder still and try to keep up for about a block, voice horse and deprived, so he settles for a low hum but ultimately feels like a ******* and opts for silence. When the thoughts start to unravel, he turns the stereo back on, half mast.

The bassy throbs of his heart assaults his rib cage, so he’s almost at work.
“Hello! HeelloO!” He practices again bringing the car to a stop, his left foot hitting the pavement as the Honda leans forward, backwards, then goes still. “HE—llo!” Back through the frozen morning, fiddling the keys in the lock and into the building.

The front door of the office presents its sickly yellow face and last minute sighs are exhaled.
“H…cough HeelloO!” He invites.
“Morning! Debbie returns. “Hey!” answers Rick. “Yo, yo,” says the intern whose name he feel terrible about forgetting. “How you doin’ today, Mr. C?” He asks.
Why the **** would he ask me that, it’s 9am, he thinks, but musters a “Me? Great!” in a tone that plainly sounds like Droopy Dog after receiving news from a physician that begins with “I’m sorry, Droopy” so he adds “just another day in paradise!” Something he picked up from young ****-types in university. 
“You?” he directs the question not only to the intern but the entire room to demonstrate gusto.
“Living the dream!” Says intern; “Couldn’t be better!” Says Debbie;  “Another beautiful day! Another beautiful day…” Says Rick.
They stare back at him with their mouth-corners quivering, eyes twitching, neck-veins prominent. They’re literally bursting from the seams with zeal! He thinks.
“Couldn’t be better,” he thinks. “Living the dream.” He settles into his headphones, a small fire welling in his gut. Don’t these people ever get tired of being “great?” He thinks, queuing “Three Little Birds” on his iPod, watching the waves move in, then out, in, then out on his new animated “beach theme” desktop background. 

He settles into his headphones but can’t distract his way out of the thought: why can’t I live the dream? Why everybody else, and more importantly, why not me?
Alex Hoffman Mar 2016
One day Zeus called the God of Happiness and the God of Sadness into the academy of Olympus. He announced that he had prepared a test to see which of the twin brothers would forever dictate the lives of humans on Earth.

“You each have a blank paper at your desk. Happiness, Sadness, your task is to convince me in a list of 6 items why the humans should take after you and not your brother.”

At the end of the hour, the brothers turned in their papers. Hard lines formed in Zeus’ forehead as he read:

1. Whether you achieve your goals or whether you fail, in X years no one will remember.
2. You can make all the money in the world, but you can not take your money to the afterlife.
3. Often things don’t work out how you want and/or expect, and life moves on anyways.
4. Life on Earth is fickle. You can fall victim to chance and die at any moment.
5. Whether you play it safe and work a secure job or recklessly pursue that which you love, at the end of your life the outcome will be the same: death.
6.  You are part of a young and insignificant species, circumnavigating a small pocket of the universe, doomed for inevitable catastrophe, and nothing that you do (or don’t do) matters compared in this bigger picture. (According to what Earth-inhabitants know as “science.”)

“My sons, your papers are identical save the name at the top of the page. Tell me my sons, which one of you cheated on your test?” Zeus thundered.

“It was I,” said Sadness, “I read from Happiness’ page. Your test was too difficult for me, so simple in nature.”

“And it was I,” said Happiness, before Zeus could interject. “I stole the answers from Sadness’ mind. This way the people of Earth would follow my dictum no matter who won.

Zeus’ eyes burned with the fire of the underworld, scorching the flesh of his sons’ faces, which waned until their skin bore no light at all.  

“Cheaters.” Zeus accused. “You are unworthy of Olympus. As punishment I will send you to Earth. For as long as Earth spins, you will no longer be brothers but will face off in battle. Your lists are identical and so too shall your army’s be governed by these identical rules. When Earth ceases to spin, he with the largest and most capable following will alone return to Olympus.”

The sky vibrated and became impossibly bright, and when it ceased the Gods were standing at the corner of Times Square, each holding a sheaf of pamphlets containing the 6 laws they had created. Then, they did the only thing they knew how to do as a human, for it was the only thing they had known humans to do.

“Pamphlets here, get your pamphlets! These pamphlets have the answers to everything you’ve been looking for!” Happiness shouted at the crowd.

“I’ve got pamphlets, here! If you want to understand life, get these pamphlets now, now, NOW!” Spoke Sadness.

And so the crowd began to divide, some taking pamphlets from Happiness, some taking from Sadness, both groups eyeing each other suspiciously, holding their pamphlets close. How superior each group began to think they were—they had the true meaning in the palm of their hands. They had the winning cards. They knew what lay behind the vale of life.
About perspective.
Alex Hoffman Feb 2016
Nobody “breaks” out of prison. Steel bars are hard enough to bend. One escapes through careful planning—months of fierce attention to detail. Until one day, when the conditions are absolutely perfect. Then, one escapes by beating the system.

One afternoon, while you are observing the doldrums of prison, someone will approach to offer you a key. “Only $5” they will say, “and this key will guarantee your escape. For it is a skeleton-key.” Now, there is an old saying that “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is,” which is easy enough to say. But you have waited so many years in the colossal boredom and misery of prison. For $5, who knows—this key could guarantee your escape. What’s five dollars for the chance of escape? So you take the key, which turns out to be plastic, and immediately snaps in two inside the lock.

Certain lessons in life stick, and this is not one of them. If you drive up to a red light, for example, your foot will naturally reach for the breaks. But this type of lesson has little to do with emotions.

Bad days, on the other hand, will make the entire world feel hopeless and cruel. Even if yesterday had us believing in a world that is beautiful even when it’s ugly. On a bad day, there is no beauty at all.

So, beating a bad day isn’t always about coming to a solution. Sometimes, it’s about endurance. 

When you’re upset, it isn’t just because things got heated with a friend, or because of failure, or an unusually cold week on your holiday leave. When you’re upset, it’s because you were put on this earth to be upset. If you need proof, walk outside and ask—you will never find a person who doesn’t know pain.

But there are two outcomes to every coin toss, and even then, it isn’t as if the other face has disappeared. It is only hidden from sight until the next time the coin is tossed. And though you may not see it, you know for certain that if you turn that coin over the opposite face will be there.

This isn’t to say that our emotions are guided by the same lottery as a coin toss. Life, I hope, is full of choice and circumstance that exceed the simplicity of chance. But it is at least fair to say that, whatever the circumstances, you will outlive pain


Sometimes you’ll have to endure many unlucky coin tosses. It will begin to seem as though they will all be unlucky.

But think hard—the other side is there.

Escape is coming, but you can’t break the bars. So keep your eyes open. Be patient. Every day is a new toss: no matter where the coin lands, the outcome is yours.
A short musing on how to face life and its inevitable sadness.
Alex Hoffman Dec 2015
The only proper way to be a conversationalist is to convince yourself that you’re boring. If you can strip back the hard shell of the ego, and look down on yourself from the eyes of an apathetic God, you will likely (and hopefully) see just how boring you really are. It isn’t a sin to be boring, in fact there are many advantages to honest self-depreciation.

The main advantage, is the way you approach a conversation. “Interesting” people find it difficult to silence the affected score-keeper that dominates their internal dialogue and ruins any chance of an honest and engaged conversation. It is the voice that reminds you to show interest with your body language, and keep a dumb happy gaze laser pointed into their eyes. This dialogue is obsessed with authenticity and genuine conversation, and therefore a natural sociopath.

Luckily, you are the stunning definition of boredom, an extracted dictionary cut-out of un-interesting, and nobody could possibly give a rats-*** what you have to think—least of all the Voice that controls the inner-dialogue. That Voice has packed it up to find a more interesting vessel…maybe the person standing across from you in conversation. 

Because you are so boring, and they are the Oxford personification of intellect and fascination, you should pay careful attention to what they say—no time to worry about how they’re perceiving your reaction to whatever it is they’re saying. You are too busy to notice what sort of body language you may or may not be using to validate their half of the conversation. Instead, your time is spent carefully hanging on their every word, digesting it and projecting the whole bit into a colourful scene in your imagination. Instead, you’re too lost in the excitement of their infinitely more interesting life and impossible wealth of knowledge offered to you with each word that they speak. Instead, you are actually listening to the words that come out of their mouth and not the ones that speak to you from the inside of your own mind.

This is what it means to be in conversation. This was the point of our social nature. And in a world of needy social-media junkies grabbing at the cuffs of potential ‘followers’ and ‘likes’ and trendy passer-by’s, the last thing anyone needs is the high-pitched whine of another “interesting” millennial.

Lucky for you, you boring sack of yawning sloths, that you aren’t interesting too.
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