Poems of the Week


The Difference Between Sadness and Suffering

The world became a bag of seeds. This is no one’s
fault. Nothing is anyone’s fault, which is something
we must remember. The world is just a bag of seeds,
and there is nowhere for the seeds to be planted.
This is the prayer I came up with before dinner at
your mom’s house. What is this a prayer for? She
asked. I don’t know. Maybe it is a prayer for your daugh-
I said. Then I told everybody at the table that
the difference between sadness and suffering is
where the love comes from. We think we’ve figured
it out, and then it is a fist that comes exploding
from our eyes.

The Animal Spell

Someone once told me that animals are people
under spells, and if you fall in love with them the
spell will be lifted. I recently fell in love with a black
trumpeter swan. I watched her ruffle her neck
feathers for hours, watched her peck bugs from her
breast. I was sure she would make a beautiful bride,
but she was always a black trumpeter swan. I once
brushed a horse’s hair for 3 straight years until it
crumpled into death. The truth is that there is no such
thing as spells. The world is always as it is, and as
always as it seems. And Love is just our own kind
voice that we whisper into our own blood.

Death Letter

I get a letter in the morning that said the woman I
love is dead, that she has been trampled by
elephants. I haven’t seen her in years, but I think
about her every time I make the bed, every time I
set the table. I think about how perfect we would
have been together. When I arrive at her house with
flowers to pay my respects, I see her in the window,
dusting the sill. She isn’t dead at all. She shows no
signs of being trampled, even her clothes are
starched and pressed. I knock on the door and she
opens it. You’re not dead I say. Who are you? she says.
What do you mean? I say. It’s me. But her eyes just
squint at me as if I were microscopic. Weren’t you
trampled by elephants?
I say. No she says. There aren’t
even any elephants around here.
When I walk away,
flowers in my fist, I think about all the different
kinds of death. I wish she would have been dead
just like the letter said. There is more truth in that
kind of death, and I felt so much closer to her then.

*all from Fjords vol. 1, Black Ocean, 2012.

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