Examination of the Absent (October 2015)


I shall write an ode to grief,

to “Heaven gained another angel,”

to the passionately clichéd “It’s not your fault”—

these are the things

that are much too familiar.  And

the gaudy production

playing out behind my eyes

—my best friend: an acrobat,

her eyes closed,

limbs snare-drummed sticks

clunking their way to the trapeze.

And I wandered into her big-top ring,

hours late to stop the fall

that left her stage-makeuped form

crumpled in our room.


For this reason,

I will always be

The Roommate,

with my fish eyes,

mouth stumbling toward her name,

and shockwaves withering my ears.


I have no


where to place my hands

because they weren’t

the net I thought they’d be

—weren’t waiting

to catch the girl

whose dark thoughts

manifested in thick black eyeliner.  And

every place they are now

is a fucking waste.

And so I burst into the room

and hang into the door—

the model of disaster—

with my cacophonic chest and my legs going numb.

So if you want an ode


I can tell you

about the half-hearted shudder

in my waterlogged chest.

Or the way

I have to tilt my head

to look reality straight in the face.

I can sit in my room for half a semester,

hands cradling my not-understanding,

beseeching the star to undo her disappearing act,


too late, too late,

too late.



An earlier version of “Examination of the Absent” was published in Hiram College’s Echo (2016).

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