shoulders squared, back curved (20170726)

never meant to be atlas

never willingly carried the world
on my shoulders

never wished
to be weighed down
by anything

but that candy you liked
–pecans wrapped around
caramel and brown sugar fudge–
weighs on me

wrigley’s double mint gum
always always in your jaw
even while you smoked

your favorite cigarettes
stain my fingers
linger in my hair
and my shirt

even your horrible taste
in music
your delight in department
store nachos with plastic
looking cheese
your willingness to
eat anything
and then diet for weeks

your utter obsession with
keeping secrets
so many
that you emptied out
and filled the house
with things and piles
of things

some days
the world seems like
a lighter weight to bear

8 thoughts on “shoulders squared, back curved (20170726)”

  1. I wonder how much love weighs? Your brilliant poem makes me realize that love comes with a ton of baggage from both sides. You are never just the keeper of someone’s heart, you’re also slapped with all their annoying habits and flaws. Your mind is remarkable — always spinning, huh?

  2. So, as usual, I misread this. First pass, I read the first line as intended, where you didn’t volunteer to carry the world. But then, stanza by stanza I heard you list all the things your SO did that were a weight, *but then you found they had made your world bearable*. And that progression and resolution made for a truly beautiful and up unexpected poem. But then I realized you were just complaining. I know I give you a hard time, but there is so much power and beauty in what you are capable of.

    1. I’m not a big fan of the poet’s intent school of criticism. I have a little piece of paper from a calendar tucked into my bathroom mirror that has a quote by Kunitz: “The poem has secrets the poet knows nothing of.” I really believe that I only do half the work, sometimes less. The reader fills in everything else. And does so every time they approach or remember the poem. So there’s no such thing as misreading. Everything you get out it is you.

      1. Of course, I believe things can always be improved too, which is why I appreciate feedback. I can try to communicate a feeling or idea, and the success or failure of that always falls on my own shoulders. Like Atlas!

  3. Poignant and sad. This portrays an unhappy and uneven relationship; maybe one to escape from.

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