Published on Academy of American Poets (

from “A Test of Company”



small victories                                  small wars

a famous person

played chess in the woods

whatever repeats                  whatever

input we have          a disappearing

that knows how to proceed                                    

local realities            made up

exclusively                 of their own grammar         

but only if their grammar

is voluntary               

victorious feelings                 without victory         

sam calls                     our teams are playing         

we are getting older             can only hope           

for a beautiful result





is a truth that conveys

no information                              a local

threat                                               a distant                    

possibility                                       autoplay                    

tabs on tabs on tabs

I buy the hat              that my bitmoji had

in a threat of forests             a savant

of anger                      a savant of nothing

to be angry about

a hierarchy                of satisfactions

the next activity                   

the best distraction              

it’s never too late                  to stay the same  



                           very few things

are not






the body reacts

                           to what reacts

                           to it

a sort of           


             a kind

                       of loyalty


Copyright © 2019 by Chris Tonelli. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 16, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“A Test of Company is a kind of tribute to Emmanuel Hocquard, whose recent passing was a big loss. His A Test of Solitude (Burning Deck, 2000) has meant a lot to me over the years, and this manuscript I'm working on is a response to that—my way of eulogizing and expressing gratitude. And also a weird way of communing with him—applying his style and form to my own—like wearing a tie or a brooch of someone you miss very much.”


Chris Tonelli

Chris Tonelli is a founding editor of the independent poetry press Birds, LLC. He is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently Whatever Stasis (Barrelhouse Books, 2018). Chris is the co-director of the NC Book Festival, works in the Libraries at NC State, and co-owns So & So Books in Raleigh, where he lives.

Date Published: 2019-09-16

Source URL: