Photography © Chad Parenteau



I have a friend who is hydrophobic–
he wants to learn how to swim
but he is too afraid
of the water
to give himself over to it
and just float.

And I have another friend who
is agoraphobic–he wants
to see the world,
and to see the country,
and to see the big city,
but he’s too afraid
to come out
of his tiny apartment
which is a closet, really.

And my claustrophobic friend would love
to take the elevator;
my gephyrophobic friend wishes
she could drive over bridges
instead of having to go all the way around
each morning to get to work
and each night to get home again
before finally lying down
next to the one she loves.


Paul Hostovsky makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter. His latest book of poems is Mostly (FutureCycle Press, 2021).

Chad Parenteau is Associate Editor of Oddball Magazine.