Posts Tagged ‘holding on’

Carry on, the woman bolstered me.
I thought of all the things I try to carry—
thanked her. Then surprised, I disagreed.

Why carry troubles, haul a life’s debris
as if I were a barge, a human ferry?
Carry on, the woman bolstered me.

I took her words as blessing, certainly—
a benediction, kind and customary,
but thinking more about it, disagreed.

I felt the lifelong weight of all I cleave to—
convictions, hopes, and moods both blithe and scary
Carry on, the woman bolstered me.

Imagine if I dropped the weight, was freed
from the heroic self that makes me weary.
Her words were kind, but should I disagree?

Part of me clings to that belief—
that I must carry on, though spent, though teary.
Carry on, the woman bolstered me.
But must I? Part of me does not agree.


Hi friends, for kicks, this poem is written in an old French form, the villanelle. You can read all about its history and how to write one here

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Teach me
to trust
the hope
that blooms
the loss,
the love
that’s at
the heart
of fear—
teach me
to molt,
to slough,
to shed,
to doff,
to meet
the first light
and then
let even that

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After holding something tight for just minutes,
it takes ten more for the fist to unhold,
to let what it has been grasping
simply balance there in the palm.

I have heard the story of how they trap monkeys
by putting a treat through a hole just big enough
that the monkey’s hand can slip in, but
when clasped around the sweet,
cannot slip out.

I have been one of the rare monkeys
who knows that to be free, it must let go.
It takes time, but eventually the fingers unfurl
the way a leaf unfolds out of its bud—
not all at once, but in spurts, little jerks
of the knuckles, until at last the hand is open
and the fingers remember
what they can do besides clench,
besides clutch, besides clamp.

Today I wonder if the head might learn
what the hand knows, might to slacken and relax
to release a dream.
It never knew holding a dream
could become a problem—
it was a dream, for heaven’s sakes.
Something good. Something wonderful.
Something sweet.

When did the dream become a trap?
A tightening, a snare?
Oh dream, can I let you go
the way a hand might release a piece of paper?
Such a beautiful dream—
that those around me might truly be happy
if only I am good enough, if only I hang on.

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Perhaps when we don’t know what to say

we have at last arrived at the one true thing—

and in our thrill to share it with words, dilute it.


It is like the seed, perhaps, that in sprouting

at last understands its purpose, only

now it is no longer a seed.


How easy it is to lose revelation.

Not that it is ever gone—more that it

drops its petals, and we are left


holding an empty stem, trying

to remember how beautiful it was,

failing to see how beautiful it is.

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Why do I keep you

I say to the dress

that doesn’t fit

that never has

and hold it up

to admire its sheen

then hang it up

in the closet again.

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After while you forget what all that stuff in storage was.
—Stewart Warren

I had forgotten that kiss
with the broken hinge
and that fist on the desk
with a leg missing.
And the angers folded up
like paper dolls, ripped.
I’d forgotten the banging
on the crooked door
and the slamming of
the empty silverware drawer
and spike in the bedroom wall.
I had forgotten the heat,
the quiet, the taste of metal
in my mouth. I’d forgotten
all about it until I found
that old key. And I only opened
the storage door a crack, but all
that old stuff fell out on me. Isn’t it strange
how we don’t just throw stuff away?
We store it in case it is useful some day
—we hoard it in our closets, we lock it
in our minds. Sometimes we label it
so we can find it again.
Sometimes we just give it a toss
and it lands in a heap with other things
we once loved. And they all
gather dust. And they all gather dust.
Leave the storage door closed.
Lose the key. Take a walk.

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Finding the Way

With every breath today
I let you go. I don’t mean this
lightly. And with every inhale
today, I let you back in.
Softly. All day like this. Flopping.
Flopping and falling. Oh
the ridiculous failure of it all.
And the wonder. Shit.
If this is awe, I am sick of it.
Just in the last nine lines
I have let you go another nine times.
And ten times opened to you again.
I am too tired to fix anything.
The dress hem. The headphone
cord that one of the children chewed.
Our hearts. I have stopped believing in lack.
And then I believe it again.
What I know: Here we are.
I let you in. I let you go.
Through the skylight,
I watch a robin land
on a branch too thin,
watch it fly away.

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strange, even after
the door disappeared, jamb, too
I still stand
in the middle of openness
hands clasped around a knob

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Gilgamesh, too, found rocks
in his path. They were like crumbs
for Hansel and Gretel, like
Ariadne’s red fleece thread.
It’s so hard, sometimes,
to see how we are being led.
We think we know the path.
We think we know something.


In a dream, I say,
It’s the rocks
that I just can’t let go of.


By the river, all the rocks
are softened, tumbled and smooth.
They are nearly impossible
to balance, to stack—
but possible it is.


So on the path
Gilgamesh, in his urgency,
smashed the rocks.


The ice
is thin.
The rocks,
flung underhand,
make such
satisfying holes.
Why is it satisfying?
The sound of shattering.
The sksksksksksk of pond ice resettling.
The hole.

Inside the stone,
it is dark.
Not like a shadow.
Like dark.


He broke everything
he needed
to find his way.


I do not know
why I break
what I need,
why I repel
what I love,
why I hold on
to rocks in a dream.


It’s not a path,
says my teacher,
it’s a beckoning.


By the continual
creeping of ants
a stone
will wear

A stone
thrown into the pond
will not move
for many, many, many years.
A stone
thrown into the pond
is not lost.


There is no permanence.


My son says, Mom,
they’re all so beautiful,
every one of these rocks.
We toss them,
rock by rock,
into the river.

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