Take No Care for Your Dignity

advice from Tobias Wolff to Mary Karr

Whatever it might mean
it’s a strange dictum to live out.

That calving off the pretense of any
outer husk is what confides us

one to the other. I shit myself.
I apologized without meaning it.

I listened to my neighbor scream
at her mother, trying to decipher
the content of what was said.

The fantasies often fall to pieces,
get warped, and bend back in on
themselves so that any hope
of an orgasm is lost.

That I like to shave at the sink
while my son splashes the water.
That quitting too is a vice
I happen to thrill myself against.

Each piece falls away. What’s left,
just a man puttering in a garden,
traipsing through the city in the rain,
wondering about the score of the game.


Joshua Marie Wilkinson is the author of several books, including a new collection of poetry, Bad Woods (Sidebrow), and a novel, Trouble Finds You (Fonograf), both out later this year. Wilkinson is a psychotherapist and he lives in Seattle.

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