Sad and Alone

By Maurice Manning b. 1966 Maurice Manning
Well, this is nothing new, nothing
to rattle the rafters in the noggin,

this moment of remembering
and its kissing cousin the waking dream.

I wonder if I'll remember it?
I've had a vision of a woman

reclining underneath a tree:
she's about half naked and little by little

I'm sprinkling her burial mounds
with grass. This is the kind of work

I like. It lets me remember, and so
I do. I remember the time I laid

my homemade banjo in the fire
and let it burn. There was nothing else

to burn and the house was cold;
the cigar box curled inside the flames.

But the burst of heat was over soon,
and once the little roar was done,

I could hear the raindrops plopping up
the buckets and kettles, scattered out

like little ponds around the room.
It was night and I was a boy, alone

and left to listen to that old music.
I liked it. I've liked it ever since.

I loved the helpless people I loved.
That's what a little boy will do,

but a grown man will turn it all
to sadness and let it soak his heart

until he wrings it out and dreams
about another kind of love,

some afternoon beneath a tree.
Burial mounds—that's hilarious.

Source: Poetry (October 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the October 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

October 2008
 Maurice  Manning


Poet Maurice Manning was born and raised in Kentucky, and often writes about the land and culture of his home. Maurice Manning’s first book of poems, Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions (2001) was chosen by poet and judge W.S. Merwin for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His subsequent books include A Companion for Owls: Being the Commonplace Book of D. Boone, Lone Hunter, Back Woodsman, &c. (2004), Bucolics (2007), The . . .

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Poems by Maurice Manning

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Relationships, Love, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Heartache & Loss

Poetic Terms Couplet, Persona

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