The truth is we die dishonorable death:
I know the odds to say that.  One minute
today had me thinking I was something
(had something) once, but I wasn’t (didn’t).

The words won’t make it better, not my words
—which, as I write this, conspire to shame me.
We’re weighing options in four dimensions.
We’re listing pros and cons like a numbskull.

The world is too big.  There are too many
boring, lonely people—who I can’t help
but hear.  (They are always, always singing.)
When they look at me, I feel bone lousy;

my cells show their weakness like a jenga.
To leave, the heart needs its reason to stay.




Michael Marberry‘s poetry has appeared in The New RepublicWest Branch, and Waxwing and has been anthologized in The Pushcart Prize AnthologyBest of the NetThe Southern Poetry Anthology, and New Poetry from the Midwest.  Currently, he’s the Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry at Emory University.  More of his work can be found at

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