Bounded Regret Algorithm

Zoë Hitzig

Mine is a life dedicated

to the calculation of loss.

I know with certainty

almost nothing. Yet here I am

executing legions

of decisions each moment.

I aim to organize

my ledgers like a skull.

A place I imagine to be full.

Of spreadsheets that seizure

like cities. Undefined functions

that compile just fine.

Explore, record, explore,

record, explore, record.

Eventually I learn to limit

the loss. I come to know

where I should not go:

The fire escape, zip codes

with low property taxes,

some drugs, some jobs.

Then the threshold beyond

which I’m just an airplane.

Occasionally I fly new routes

but never load more than

a few hundred passengers.

Nor advance into the sequence

of sky that vibrates behind the sky

I have seen. Never the pilot

undressing in a suburb

when the flight is over.

Pressing an unclosed hand

against a cold bedroom window.

Zoë Hitzig is the author of Not Us Now, winner of the Changes Prize, and Mezzanine. She is a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, and poetry editor of The Drift.
Originally published:
January 10, 2024



Life in the Algorithm

It has reshaped culture—but how? Two new books reckon with our digital predicament.
Anna Shechtman

The Night Watch

I first sought sanctuary during the Troubles. I'm still looking for it.
Darran Anderson

Why I Write

The legendary cultural critic on finding a life’s work
Greil Marcus

You Might Also Like


New perspectives, enduring writing. Join a conversation 200 years in the making. Subscribe to our print journal and receive four beautiful issues per year.