Break Up

There are two lies waiting after this poem. I am a prism,
each day’s light bends inside me, inverting
the things I see, like the man punching wads
of bulbous dough in the pizzeria next door.

The best pizza I’ve ever had was in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
My college friends forgot that the booths filled up
early on Thursday nights. I stood at the end and danced
with men who were just trying to get to the restroom.

Two sets of those friends will marry each other and later
one of the women, Jeannette, will sit at that same booth,
trying to wave away seventeen years with Lee. “Maybe
you should travel,” I will say. Strings of cheese stretching

From the sizzling pan between us to the slice on my plate.
“People used to travel out of state to divorce all the time.”
The day’s light will bend inside me like Jeannette’s sigh.
“Still the proper way to do it.” She will chew with her mouth open.

Inspired by Philip Levine’s poem “Truth.”

Early draft. Constructive criticism welcome.

7 Replies to “Break Up”

    1. Thank you for commenting, Myna, but I doubt you’re feedback would be useless. I know from the stories I’ve read of yours that you can tell when something is written well. You have a good handle on literary devices, precise word choices, and succinct language. Poetry is just a super-condensed story (fictional or nonfictional) using way more metaphors and sentence fragments.

      1. That’s not on you. That’s how we were taught poetry where the emphasis was on “understanding” for the sake of test-taking. They are just like songs. If it speaks to you, if you identify with it in some way, then the words will stick with you. If not, no big deal. Just like a song on the radio. Not many people feel less-than for not being into a song. It should be the same for a poem. It’s not because we’ve never had to take a test to measure our understanding of song lyrics.

  1. Nate, one of the things I really love about this poem is the accessibility of it. Often, I think of poetry as quite high literature–lyrical, metered, and requiring a lot of me to engage with it. You’ve done such a nice job of using simple language and familiar settings to put the reader immediately at ease. As I said elsewhere, Bruce Dawe is a personal favourite poet, and he uses a similar technique in his poetry–he writes about everyday events using simple, accessible language, while guiding the reader to think more deeply about the minutiae.

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