because while some truths lend themselves to equations, others are best described in verse


Hill top in fall

This poem is not for you.

It walks behind me and laughs,
says you must
have strength to be
gentle (and tho i feel like crying);
We take pride in being southpaws.

This poem doesn’t hear the hurt
in a message (maybe)
meant for me, sent
to the second of your ex-wives.

(This poem
thinks things
with an ex-
are so insubstantial
as to nonexist.
We disagree.)

It kisses me
on my merlot mouth,
doesn’t mention
the knife on the floor.

This poem knows its whiskeys
like truths: starkly & burning
in the back of the throat, finds
nothing light in either.
(Often there is strength
with no gentleness.)

It  takes the Bottom paths,
sticks to canal lines,
the water, the river,
railroad overhead rumbling,

thinks about boxcars, speaks
my wistful, bitter into where
no one can hear, knows
i too always take the riverpaths
up Hill (and, sadly,
will not follow you home).

30 responses


    I love it!

    November 19, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    • 🙂 ‘preciate it, Mark.

      November 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm

  2. The complexity of thought in this is mesmerizing… stunning write. The kiss on the merlot mouth and the knife on the floor…really good

    November 19, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    • Thank you for the kind input. 🙂

      November 20, 2013 at 1:03 pm

  3. Takes me truthfully and insistently into a place I have never been – powerful poetry . Thank you for sharing.

    November 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    • “Truthfully and insistently…” –no poet could ask for better words. Thank you, Colin.

      November 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm

  4. As always, it deserves multiple reads to capture every elusive image and beautiful twists. So much to like: “things with ex- are so insubstantial,” “doesn’t mention the knife on the floor,” “knows its whiskeys like truth”

    November 19, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    • aw, thank you, Denise. 🙂

      November 20, 2013 at 1:23 pm

  5. This poem is incredible. I see strength, resolve, and resolution sprinkled through the truth of pain.

    November 19, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    • Strength, yes. Maybe. Thanks, Lori!

      November 20, 2013 at 1:32 pm

  6. ha. nice. i like how you have personified the poem…and kisses you but what about that knife on the ground…maybe i should not ask either…smiles…your poem sounds like a cool one to hang out with, just saying…would not mind walking the old water way again…maybe soon…smiles.

    November 19, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    • you know you are welcome to hang out with my poem any time, b. *smiles.* and a water way walk sounds good. soon sounds better.

      November 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm

  7. ooh..this is somber and cuts and bleeds…love the merlot and whiskey stanzas especially. Well-written stuff.

    November 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    • Yes, i think maybe it does. Cut and bleed. Thank you.

      November 20, 2013 at 1:58 pm

  8. I truly love this…I just wish it was for me….sigh 🙂

    November 19, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    • 😉 (thanks, Morgan)

      November 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm

  9. Kay Middleton

    I’m kinda glad this poem isn’t for me…but deep down I know better.

    November 19, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    • Hah! Indeed.

      November 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm

  10. Just great. Each word is where it should be. The image of the merlot mouth and the complete third stanza really caught my attention.

    November 19, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    • Thank you, Adriana. This piece was an amalgamation of discussion from critique group, workshop prompting, and my own personal angst. Glad it all fell into place. 🙂

      November 20, 2013 at 2:20 pm

  11. Beautifully crafted pain. I read through a couple of times , so much that made me think about along the bottom paths.

    November 19, 2013 at 11:34 pm

    • Sublimation of pain into beauty… so often that’s what it’s about. i don’t know whether to feel sad about that or not.

      November 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm

  12. Such a beautiful piece. There’s a resolve and a self-conflict going on.. how hard it is to get over someone sometimes is like trying to float “uphill” like the poem says. Such wistful sentiments.

    November 20, 2013 at 1:30 am

    • Thank you, Lila, for your thoughtful words.

      November 20, 2013 at 2:33 pm

  13. It’s hard not to read all your poems as pieces of a larger work – it’s also a challenge not to read them autobiographically. This was more clear-eyed and stronger in tone than previous poems, but there is a niggling sadness there. You write confidently, and I wish I could get inside my feelings as well as youcan. I can dream, can’t I? Loved this very much, Mosk

    November 20, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    • O Mosk, most of the time i don’t even think i want to read my poems as a larger body of work– it might be just too depressing! Niggling sadness, yes, well. One of our regular critique group participants described my overall tone/voice as one that is a “wistful bitter.” Hence the line. Glad you liked this, despite! 🙂

      November 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm

  14. Gorgeous poem, Joanna. I love it.

    November 20, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    • thank ya, lady! 🙂

      November 27, 2013 at 8:34 am

  15. An excellent poem to begin my week with…thanks!

    November 24, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    • Thank you! High praise. 🙂

      November 27, 2013 at 8:38 am


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