This is a very rough start. Thanks, Sarah, for all the great prompts.

You Don’t Say (yes, this is the title)

you say tolerance
we say ambulance

you say maybe we deserve it
we say we are going to a party

we are being tolerated by you
you are Winnie the Pooh

your tolerance might win you a shirt
we’d tolerate you back if we had room

your word is no longer in
we’ll hide from you on the moon


  1. Sarah Freligh

    Hi, Koss, so happy you’re here! This is all kinds of fun to read not only for the word play — I’m loving the riffs on “tolerate” and how that knits those lines together –but also for how the poem shape shifts, how the “you” and “we” becomes a kind of dialogue in which the you/we become interchangeable. Is the “we” who “say ambulance” the same “we who are being tolerated by you”? I don’t know and I don’t care because I’m having fun having the rug of expectation pulled out from under me.

    I think the title works great. You don’t say — and they don’t!

  2. Francine Witte

    I like this a lot the tolerance/ambulance rhyme has a very deep feel to it. I feel lots of oppositions here. There is a lot that YOU don’t say and yet I feel it. Nice job.

    • Koss Just Koss

      Thank you, Francine. You are an expert at conveying stuff in absence, so I appreciate that.

  3. David O'Connor

    Koss, love this, love how short the lines are, love how they seem half-finished but really are chosen, done, truncated by choice. This one: we’d tolerate you back if we had room–rocks! Get poem, send it out.

    • Koss Just Koss

      Thank you, David. That’s my favorite line too. Brings a smile each time I read it.

  4. Len Kuntz

    Hi Koss.

    This is tight and terrific. The juxtapositions play off each other perfectly and the unanswered question with the white space does so much work here. Loved it.

  5. Robert Vaughan

    Koss, this is so up my alley- the pared down essences, and multiplicity of meanings!!! YES! Also really love the title and its set-up. I agree with the others, this one is ready to launch! A very fortunate mag will love this.

    (((Do me an inside favor, please never apologize for your writing. YOU ALWAYS BRING IT!)))

    • Koss Just Koss

      Thank you, Robert. While I used to do a lot of laconic, absurd writing when I was younger, this piece was sprawling and I f-ed around with it on and off for hours. Then your example helped bring me back to that chopping/absurd place. Thanks. Also, don’t think there isn’t an ego smoldering beneath my self-deprecating crap. 😉 Thanks for the vote of confidence! 😉

  6. Jayne Martin

    Hi, Koss. I love the sharp back-and-forth here. It builds the tension well. And that line “You say we deserve it.” Yikes! That knocks the piece into a whole other level. Well done!

  7. Anita Brienza

    It’s always hard to comment later, when you agree with all that’s been said.

    Koss, I love the wordplay as well – it’s such fun, and I laughed out loud on this one:
    “we are being tolerated by you
    you are Winnie the Pooh”

    A piece like this is such a great example of exploration, too – something I need to do more of. Thanks for the lesson!

    • Koss Just Koss

      Thank you, Anita, and I’m glad it got a laugh out of you. This is the second appearance of Winnie in my work this year. Maybe he’ll stop by again. 😉

  8. Andrea Marcusa

    Hi, I like what is happening here. Word of warning, I tend to be VERY literal so these kinds of leaps in language and image don’t some easily to me. So I was with it until here and then I got lost. But what you have here is strong. I like the back and forth between the “you” and the the “We”. you are Winnie the Pooh TKS, andrea

    your tolerance might win you a shirt
    we’d tolerate you back if we had room

    your word is no longer in
    we’ll hide from you on the moon

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