If You’ve Heard This One Before, Stop Me by Ronda Piszk Broatch


but the universe was always always. So, too,
were we, though on another branch of time
you doubtless told me that, and I was likely

putting on my sweater instead of you
putting on your sweater, and I was the one joking
about Mr. Rogers, placing my shoes under the bench

zipping up and then halfway down – click
click click – listen, did you hear it? The sound
of lift-off, the whisper of pears rotting

on a different counter in another wing
of the fourth dimension. In that wing I jest
that Stephen Hawking is winding backward

into his god-given voice, his mind yet remaining
beautiful. Are you cold? You must be cold. I think
the planets and the stars must be, too. Stop me

if you’ve seen this before, the way the moon
through tempered glass makes a cross,
and no, don’t call the paranormal society

on me, or your local church, just rest here by me
on this bench, my shoes, or your shoes, whatever
traded dimension this is, underneath, and we can be

small together, sitting here, watching the gemmy
dark, the glistening whelks of stars flashing,
Stephen out there, somewhere, telling us

I have noticed even people who claim everything
is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it,
look before they cross the road.


Poet and photographer Ronda Piszk Broatch is the author of Lake of Fallen Constellations, (MoonPath Press, 2015). A seven-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Ronda is the recipient of an Artist Trust GAP Grant, a May Swenson Poetry Award finalist, and former editor of Crab Creek Review. Her journal publications include Atlanta Review, Blackbird, Prairie Schooner, Fourteen Hills, Mid-American Review, Public Radio KUOW’s All Things Considered, and forthcoming in Sycamore Review.