Posts Tagged ‘tears’


What were you doing when you last felt content?
            —Ada Limón

And there, beneath the white tent,
beneath the blue sky, beneath the stars
I could not see, while spinning somewhere
inside a spiral galaxy, I closed my eyes
and let the sound of flute and piano find me,
an Irish song meant to be played with a wee lilt,
though the tune itself knew something of loss,
and I felt my lungs swell and my heart expand
felt my spine straighten and my soles ground,
and I floated inside the music, stunned and surprised
by the vibrant inheritance of being alive. I hummed
with full cellular resonance and then, I was crying—
a warm spilling of tears—for what?
for beauty? for loss? for living with both in one breath?
What was it the tears meant? Oh friends,
as I felt it all with no attempt to push it away,
I was wildly, alively content.

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Ode to the Saltine Cracker

Oh, salty square,
oh, bite that turns
to savory paste,
oh, flaky wafers
stacked in long
white plastic sleeves,
you fed the boy
who could never
eat enough,
attended him
through online school,
travelled with him
in his book-laden backpack,
fueled him as he
researched twin-
turbocharged V-8 engines
and fawned over
Italian luxury cars.
Finding you today
out of place
on the shelf beside
my thesaurus,
an unopened box,
I crumpled,
longing for the boy
who would have opened you.
I’d love to clean
your stupid crumbs
from the couch.
All afternoon, I taste it,
this daily salt
that falls to my lips.

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months after the storm
the rain

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Ode to Syn-propanethial-S-oxide

You hide in the flesh of onions

the way hope hides in certain Superbowl commercials.

It’s not that I don’t expect you,

so why does it feel like an ambush when you,

chemical irritant released into air,

bring tears to my eyes and I stand there

at the kitchen counter weeping

over the cutting board,

weeping as if a lover died,

as if listening to cello,

as if I realize again there is so much suffering

in the world I cannot change.

You remind me it’s natural to cry—

that waterworks are hardwired into the eyes.

You teach me sometimes what nourishes us

also burns.

There are times when I’ve wondered

why we aren’t all weeping—

weeping for the lack of connection,

weeping for children who hunger,

weeping for love between friends

and the red of maple leaves—

it’s as if you give us permission,

prepare the pathways,

so that when at last we succumb

to our glorious humanity

we don’t try to hide it,

we don’t act as if it’s a problem,

we just stand in the center of the room

and let those hot tears

fall down our cheeks,

the salt sharp and hot on our tongues.

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Perhaps we stumbled

on the words, perhaps

we forgot a note,

forgot a bridge,

bumbled our entrances,

fumbled our parts,

but we sang, oh yes,

we sang into the low golden light

of summer, sang

because joy, because

harmony, sang because

lonely, because fear,

sang because, tears

spilling down our cheeks,

we could sing, oh friends,

before we said goodbye,

we could sing.


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Please pretty darlin’, do not cry.

            —Paul McCartney, “Golden Slumbers” adapted from Thomas Dekkers’ “Cradle Song”



And if the candle noticed

that I played the song six times,

it didn’t say anything.


And if the pan were aware

that I struggled to find a harmony,

it kept the failure to itself.


And if the kitchen noticed

that I continued to sing the song

long after the recording was done, well—


The onion did its best

to mask any tears

that no one was there to see.


And if once there was a way

to get back homeward, well,

perhaps, perhaps it will appear again.




*To listen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbcvf8a5BwM

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It wasn’t until I had passed through security

and found my way into Concourse B

that I found myself sinking into a chair

across from a giant Vienna Beef poster

and began to weep. And once they began,

the tears wouldn’t stop. Nor did I try

to stop them. I had wondered in the ICU

where they were. Had wondered

again at my parents’ home. It was strange

to be so level—not cold, really, and not numb,

but oddly steeled. It was a relief, really,

to sob into my hands. To let grief take over.

To be a maidservant to fragility.

What a gift to be sideswiped with the truth

of our vulnerability. What a blessing

to be baptized in my own helplessness.

Over the loudspeaker, they announced

that a plane was delayed. As if any of us

really know when we’ll depart, when we’ll arrive.

When the tears dried, I stood. Walked

to my gate recalibrated. Called my parents

again because I could. Because I could.

In the window, I smiled at my watery reflection,

how it almost wasn’t there at all.



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Ode to Tears



The way day doesn’t fight

the dim before night. The way

shore does not resist the river’s rise.

The way air does not refuse

the beat of wing—that’s the way

I want to let tears come.

Why do I try to force

them from falling?

Not that it works anyway.

Still, this defiance, this struggle

to appear unmoved. And why?

When there are children who laugh

and a sky that blues and stories

that break us and laughter that

seizes us? Why try to pretend

we are not changed by the way

a child loves her mother or

a friend perseveres through cancer

or the way a math teacher reminds us we have

86,400 seconds a day to spend

and if we don’t spend them,

they are gone. It is logical to weep

when met with beauty, it is practical

to let the tears release instead

of all this stupid pretending that

we are too cool or too smart or too

sophisticated to be stirred.

No, better to notice when our toes

are dipped in the grand stream

that unites us all and let that water

move right through our eyes—

better not to try to explain it.

Better to wade in the course of tears

and refuse any boat that would keep us

from touching the water. After all,

we know how to swim. After all,

there are so many reasons

to give in to who we are.




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Longing is the hardest thing to give up.

            —Jim Tipton, “What is This Place I Have Come To?”



Some days can’t end soon enough,

when the heart, so full of love,

breaks and breaks again—

for beauty, for loss.

And the eyes can’t cry

another damn tear

but they do anyway,

I would rather not

cry anymore, but God,

thank you for letting me

be one of the ones

who can’t help but weep,

whose house is built

too close to the water.

What a gift to feel this horrible ache

like a lantern, golden

and soft, guiding us

deeper and deeper

into our humanness,

leading us closer

to each other, even

though we have never felt

farther away,

and though the stars

are out and at last,

thank god, it is night,

we have never

been more awake.



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One Story

here, I’m thirsty
said my cheek
to your tear

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