Posts Tagged ‘hope


grace sufficient

You were always so good at awkwardness.
Always so good at dealing with awkwardness is what I meant to say.
All those little moments-
Forgetting someone’s name
Introducing them by the wrong one
Beginning to tell an anecdote that was never to be shared
To the person who had secretly been gossiped about-
Little moments that get remembered much bigger,
That become bricks added to a wall of misunderstandings
Or planks removed from the sub-floor of a friendship.
You were so very graceful in handling these things
And I could have used your grace, could have used you
Standing beside me at the wake
Greeting the visitors, making them welcome,
Making them feel comfortable, smoothing over the awkwardness.
Because there was so much discomfort, so much awkwardness
With no one knowing what to say to me
About your death, Most of all about the way you died.
Platitudes fought for tongue-space with statements and statistics:
I’m so sorry for your loss.
Most accidents happen at home.
The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house.
Forty-two percent of those who slip in the tub hit their head, slide underwater and drown.
I soaked in the tub at the hotel the day after the service.
I showered at the gym where they hadn’t seen me in six months.
I tried to convince myself no one needs to wash more than once a week
And after all in olden times they did it less often than that and carried flowers.
Now, at last, though here I am, in the sunny yellow room we painted together years ago.
Thermostat turned up high to fight my chills;
Soap positioned just so, in the dish at the far side of the tub;
Cell phone at the ready, on the counter;
A pile of fluffy towels, on the floor at the end where my head will be.
I cross myself one way then the other.
I ask Mary, Joseph and Little Baby Jesus to watch over me.
Put one foot and the other into the water. Grabbing both sides of the tub, I sit down.
I slide a little and the water comes up
But only to my chest. I’m going to be alright
And I can breathe again.

[This poem was inspired by an exercise by Maura Stanton called “The Widow”. The goal is to write in the voice of a woman whose husband has drowned. She hates the water but is forced through circumstances to confront it. I like the poem I wrote as a result. It’s dark but at the same time it isn’t.]



When I heard you were still with your girlfriend, I was surprised.
When I heard our child had sat waiting while you had your pre-sex blood tests, I was disgusted.
At bottom, I was hopeful.
Not that she would cure you.
That you were moving forward, leaving some of the hatred and bitterness behind.

We’ve been waiting to hear from you about your plans for Christmas break.
“Maybe he’s on his honeymoon,” my mother said.
“Maybe he’s busy attending Lamaze classes because his girlfriend is pregnant with triplets,” my mother said.
I said that you’d better name one after me in gratitude for the vasectomy you never got.
“Maybe he’s in Federal prison,” my mother said.
“Maybe you should stop making up stories about my father,” Anna said.
I considered how often we are different people when we’re with different people.
Your answer must be delayed because you were so busy, your life so full of new people and new growth.
I was even a little envious.

Tonight, at last, you called.
You’d been waiting to see what your schedule would be and where our child might fit in.
I learned that while we have both changed our addresses only one of us has changed location.
I am now living in the tense called anticipatory future:
Our daughter might job-shadow an engineer.
It looks like I will finish all the presents before Christmas Eve.
Will you really have fireworks for New Year’s?
You are still living in the accusatory past:
I have raised our daughter to be a fearful, neurotic mess.
I have lived in such a way that she has no valid model for male/female relationships.
I have manipulated information and the Social Services system to wrongfully gain custody of her so that it is impossible for her life to be any less wretched than I have made yours.

Prozac, poetry, and frequent exposure to babies flinging lemon gelatin changed me.
Et tu?
What will it take?
Lamaze classes?
Federal prison?
I remain


If You Wanted To Know

If you wanted to know about the transcendent nature of true romantic love
Or the feeling when exactly what you have your hopes pinned on
Turns out to be the thing that happens
And you came to me to ask me what that’s like
Or you wanted a show of examples
I’m afraid I’d have to let you down.
In the area of hopelessness though I could come through in spades.
I don’t mean a disappointment- like the one you may have just suffered-
I’m talking about people to whom the stink of hopelessness clings
Like the dust-cloud trailing Pig Pen.
The woman who’s old enough she lies about her age in order to get a date.
As soon as he finds out-it’s over (How could she be so dishonest?)-
Until she’s brave enough or lonely enough to start the game again.
The woman in the employment office who’s hungry for a job.
Hard to get one when she’s bollocksed-up her history
Staying one jump ahead
Of her hoped-to-be-someday ex
Who right now is just a vengeance-seeking, prone to violence son of a bitch.
The just above minimum wage worker:
His job is leaching his life, killing him by small degrees.
Quitting, of course, would mean losing his health insurance.
He couldn’t afford the drugs that calm him down enough
To keep doing the job in the first place.
The young man in the store buying his first serious business suit.
Seeing that no in fact those chickenpox scars are never going to fade.
People always think they’re acne and mentally, at least, they call him “pizza face”.
It’s something no Saville Row tailor or MBA can distract from.
A five-year-old child who’s…well…normal.
Not special enough to be the teacher’s pet
Nor disruptive enough to have an improvement plan.
Next-to-last chosen all year and peering dimly into the future
This’ll be the status quo till death short of a major life change.
More questions?
I could point out more extras and walk-ons
Playing Despair in Life’s soapy show.
Or you could follow the stink of hopelessness yourself
If you really wanted to know.



Pardon me if I seem a little insensitive
When the topic turns to love,
I’m no longer one to slip and fall right in
For me to topple it would take a running shove.

Don’t get me wrong.
I’m not saying I’ll never fall in love again;
But there’s a better chance Boy George will go straight
Or James Bond will drink tequila rather than gin.

I hope over time I will forget if not forgive;
I don’t want the rest of my life to be filled with hate.
Dino said, “Everybody Loves Somebody”. I say, “Hey, live and let live.”
It’s not as if I were demanding heads of ex-lovers on a plate.

Maybe someday a brave or dopey soul will tap this vein
And find it full of love to give. I haven’t closed the mine but you know- Like trodden-on toes-
My heart is a little sensitive.