Left Behind

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I’m getting far too deft at elegies,

at details that would force a poet’s hand

beyond the scope of frequent remedies–

the holy dose of pills, the strict demands

of alcoholic legacies. I write the hurt

that lingers afterwards, the useless words

that will not bring these poets back, the curt

unwieldy passions that will go unheard

by ghosts I can’t convince to visit me.

Why would their restless spirits come and play

beneath the raging of my grief, no glee

intact when I am speaking of their days?

No couplet can replace the lives now missed.

No poetry is worth a severed wrist.


Photo by Garrett Coakley

 

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About Author

Allison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where she is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University. She serves as editor and poetry editor of Crab Orchard Review, moderator of the Creative Writers Opportunities List, and director of the Young Writers Workshop, a summer writers workshop for teen writers. Her books and chapbooks include What Keeps Us Here (Ampersand Press), Soul Train (Carnegie Mellon University Press), In Every Seam (University of Pittsburgh), Wordly Pleasures (Word Tech), Imitation of Life (Carnegie Mellon UP), Voice: Poems (Mayapple Press), My Father's Kites (Steel Toe Books), Trace Particles (Backbone Press), Little Epiphanies (Imaginary Friend Press), and Multitudes (forthcoming, Word Tech Communications). Her awards include fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers Conferences, the John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Emerson College and Ploughshares, the 2009 Aquarius Press Legacy Award, the 2012 George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the 2014 Paladin Award from RHINO for "extraordinary longtime contribution to poetry in Illinois," and an honorary doctorate from Kenyon College in 2014.

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