Betwixt and Between

By Ken Holland

My friend and I stopped in a bar
we maybe shouldn’t have stopped in,
but we were on the way from here
to there and decided to pull off the road
somewhere in-between.

Somewhere in-between has its own charm
being a space where letters don’t get written,
and bills don’t get paid, and old lovers
just get older for all the time you get to ignore them.

A beer and a little space in-between you and
your friend who’s in the same in-between space
as you are, ignoring all the same things
you’re ignoring.

And the jukebox is lit and a record is spinning
beneath the needle but really what you’re listening to
is all the solitude inside your head,
one beer gone, another in its place
and you barely noticed the bartender’s hands.

The thoughts you’re having are of the breed
that pull up to the edge of a precipice
and make you wonder if anyone’s yet laid claim to
the dark acreage that lies below

              what the asking price might be

              just how much does the abyss go for these days

and your friend doesn’t even look
when you reach over to pick up the loose change
lying next to his beer. You already know
which tune he next wants to hear.
It’s the one in-between the one that just played
and the one you’ve yet to decide upon,

as if there’s no moment more merciful
than the one you’re edging toward.
The quarters in-between your fingers clicking
like tiny castanets on the brink of rhythm.

Ken Holland has had work widely published in such literary journals as Tupelo Quarterly and California Quarterly. He was a finalist for the 2022 Lascaux Prize and has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. He spent his rent-paying years working for various NYC publishers, and he lives in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York. For more, visit:

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