Poem of the Week, by Carl Dennis

IMG_3760One of my best friends and I sat on my porch last night talking about how our lives might have been different. What if I’d made myself deal with that suicide instead of trying to escape the pain? What if she’d said yes to that job? What if I’d stayed in New England? What if we’d mothered our children differently?

Floating in the air of the summer porch, our empty plates on the table before us, was the sense of the lives we might have lived, the ghost ships that didn’t carry usBut we didn’t know then what we know now, she said, and I thought back to earlier in the evening, when she was talking about time, how time is a writer’s only real trick.

IMG_3761The God Who Loves You, by Carl Dennis

It must be troubli
ng for the god who loves you   
to ponder how much happier you’d be today  
had you been able to glimpse your many futures.
It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings   
driving home from the office, content with your week—
three fine houses sold to deserving families—
knowing as he does exactly what would have happened   
had you gone to your second choice for college,   
knowing the roommate you’d have been allotted   
whose ardent opinions on painting and music   
would have kindled in you a lifelong passion.   
A life thirty points above the life you’re living   
on any scale of satisfaction. And every point   
a thorn in the side of the god who loves you.   
You don’t want that, a large-souled man like you
who tries to withhold from your wife the day’s disappointments   
so she can save her empathy for the children.   
And would you want this god to compare your wife   
with the woman you were destined to meet on the other campus?   
It hurts you to think of him ranking the conversation   
you’d have enjoyed over there higher in insight   
than the conversation you’re used to.
And think how this loving god would feel   
knowing that the man next in line for your wife   
would have pleased her more than you ever will   
even on your best days, when you really try.   
Can you sleep at night believing a god like that
is pacing his cloudy bedroom, harassed by alternatives   
you’re spared by ignorance? The difference between what is
and what could have been will remain alive for him   
even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill   
running out in the snow for the morning paper,
losing eleven years that the god who loves you   
will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene   
unless you come to the rescue by imagining him   
no wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend   
no closer than the actual friend you made at college,
the one you haven’t written in months. Sit down tonight   
and write him about the life you can talk about   
with a claim to authority, the life you’ve witnessed,   
which for all you know is the life you’ve chosen.   
For more information about Carl Dennis, please click here.



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Poem of the Week, by Kaylin Haught

img_5353Young woman across the street, waving and calling to me as I trudge through the snowdrifts on the way home from my astonishingly wonderful church for the non-churchy, where I go seeking solidarity amongst my equally post-election troubled neighbors and friends: “Mama! Mama!”
Me, calling back: “I’m not your mama!”
YW: “Thank you, mama, come here!”
Me, crossing the street in an Oh, what the hell sort of way: “. . . Yes?”
YW, gesturing to a small car with two enormous rolled rugs sticking out of the trunk and windows): “Please mama, please help.”
Me: “Honey, are you nuts? You’re half my age and twice as solid.”
YW: “Thank you mama, God bless you mama.”
Me, after deciding that the universe has brought me this interesting experience and I might as well roll with it, heaving the first rug out of the trunk/window and dragging it with difficulty and no help across the entryway to her apartment building, then repeating the process with Rug #2, at which point she gestures happily for me to follow her down a hallway with Rug #1: “No way, sister. You’re on your own now.”

YW: “Thank you mama! God bless you mama!”

Whatever the above anecdote –which ended with me heaving both rugs down the hallway, angling them into her apartment, propping them against the wall of her living room and then leaving without unwrapping and arranging them for her, much to her chagrin– has to do with today’s poem of the week, I’m not sure, other than it falls into the categories of Life is interesting and mystifying and Some people have no qualms asking for exactly what they want and My back hurts now and Sometimes I just feel like saying yes.

God Says Yes To Me
– by Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I’m telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

For more information on Kaylin Haught, please click here.