Grief Poetry

A Poem By Khalil Gibran:

Then a woman said, "Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow."

And he answered:

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.

Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Khalil Gibran

The Working Fairy and the Dancing Fairy

The working fairy and the dancing fairy
loved their home in our California garden.
Roses; persimmon scarlet and butterscotch,
a river made of cut glass flowing through,
night lit with imaginary shimmer.
Dainty footsteps wafting mint scent
as she danced to the sound of his hammer
building dream ladders by day
to climb softly each night
to peek in window corners
as we slept.
Husband and Wife.
They smiled at our large tangled shapes,
soft and warm with synchronized breath.
It was easy to be guardian fairies then.

When you died and I moved to New York City.
the dancing fairy convinced the working fairy
to find us once again and drink of my tears.
They do not understand Central Park.
It is too big and they are lost.
You everywhere and myself nowhere,
or is it myself everywhere and you nowhere?
Dream ladders can’t reach apartments,
even as low as the second floor.

The working fairy has put down his tools
to carry the dancing fairy up Madison Avenue.
She limps now.
His wrist hurts and their wings are dusty.
The working fairy
 tries to amuse his love on city streets.
He kisses her tears and soothes her,
whispering that only by being lost
can you be found.
How, she wonders, can she be found
when she is slowly forgetting the dance


Once we stayed up all night singing
Once we went to the aquarium
to watch the jellyfish dance

Afterwards you waited on a bench
because your body was failing you
while I went to get the car
You were frightened
You thought I would not return

Once we travelled together to imaginary lands
Once we planted trees in our garden
to watch them root and grow

Now I wait on the bench
because your body failed you
there is no car for me to get
I was frightened
I thought you would not return

Then I felt the breath of a butterfly
saw a dewdrop glisten in the moonlight
let the stars tell stories

of the death of once we

and the birth of once I

The Last Dance

I’m dancing the dance
of the broken bones

dissection is painless
for the already dead
the scalpel inserted
pulls the face from the head

feeling a little disjointed
with the flesh peeled away
the eye socket winks
the throat has something to say

Don’t close the curtain
lie down in my grave
there’s energy left
something to save

the theater is empty
the audience gone
no one remembers
the name on the stone

An insistent tap tapping
won't end our dance
of the broken bones.

On The Death of My Husband

To say Jan without Artie
is like ending a line in
the middle
of a      word

skipping along happy story sidewalk
then mugged
lying in the gutter

black letters scram
skitter scatter
scrape raw knees--elbows
gathering grasping losing

the wind gusts
leaving you looking for love
finding evolve
which has love in it
but is not the same

you are meant to write
with a pen made of your bone--and his
with ink made of your blood--and his
red letters coiled
like burning embers

waiting to flame with your breath
not his

come forth comfortless comfort

For Jules

The wooly mammoth fills the living room
five feet high and five feet long
You must walk around it to see the park
or hang the paintings
which Jules had come to do.

Finishing a task he had begun
by moving treasured vanities
from our home in California
now house
to my New York City apartment
that could not be filled
with antiques, smiling pictures
a woolly mammoth
and some ashes;
leftovers of a beloved husband
I carried myself.

I was queen of the one nail but Jules
knew how to drill holes in solid walls
insert the proper fasteners
and hang the paintings straight.

He laughed while he worked,
soon leaving to spin vinyl;
giving young bodies music to
dance with love with live with;

providing me with a tiny seed
that in my life there would be
some things that would

Nobody Leaves

If you try to walk sideways on a staircase
your choices are limited
sooner or later
you are bound to walk into the wall
so change your direction
make it up or down

life’s duration is may seem shorter
than a hummingbird’s breath
while a plastic bottle lasts for all time

there’s a certain grace
in an aging ballet dancer
refusing plastic surgery
because her art is in the bend of her leg
not in the slope of her nose

This poem was better before you died
and took my words with you.

You give them back
the page
keeping our promise
nobody leaves

Tug of War

women of winter widow woe whisper
hold on, hold on

our clothes are silver, our hearts are black
hold on, hold on

the girls of spring come out to play
sweated cheeks dewdrop kissed
skirts aswirl in welcoming breeze
let go, let go

the boys of spring hold them tight
strong hands encircle tiny waists
moving down to swinging hips
let go, let go

a dance of flowers pushing through
rich brown earth split in two
rumpled bed sheet, flattened grass
life or death both shall pass

women of winter widow woe exclaim
hold on, hold on

performance artists all


let go

Not Really A Poem

It’s time to write a jolly verse.
Every damn car isn’t a hearse.
Lollipops make my sugar rise.
All my giggles turn to sighs.

How tired am I with loving you;
ashes and spirit, but that’s not true.
I’m stuck alone here on earth,
searching for one sign of mirth.

I can’t go forward, you can’t come back.
All my poems are stuck on that track.
When can I sputter, “I’m all right, Jack.”
Who the hell is Jack? Alas. Alack.

My darling departed dear,
it’s more than a year.
I try to write something bucolic
Watch it turn melancholic.

Look at that scarlet flower.
It makes me feel dour.
There’s a blue bird soaring.
Could anything be more boring?

If I really wanted to be merry,
I’d find some Tom Dick or Jerry
Or embrace my own soul.
What could be more droll?

You can think I’m better;
Acting like a go getter.
But my life is toast.
I love my husband ghost.

I wear our wedding rings.
I cry when Garland sings.
I prefer my morbid verse.
Every damn car is a hearse.

Could somebody please buy me a Bugatti?

Life Force

I cannot write with simple words
I want the bow to break
I cannot read the simple words
I want my heart to ache

How can I accept your Cyrano
who has nose but no Panache
How can I adore your Errol Flynn
who has buckle but no swash

Hear then, the simple phrase,
my husband has no longer breath.
It never can express to you
the full emptiness of our death

or that love
when it is gone, remains
like neon strobe lights
pulsing memory and pains

So keep your ordinary to yourself
Put your dull poems on the shelf
While I contort my weary brain
to craft a more colorful refrain

A magician finds live rabbits in his hat
Surely a poet must do more than that.

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