The Cenotaph

By Fanny Howe b. 1940 Fanny Howe Read the Q & A
I want to leave this place
The gas stove is leaking
and the door of the refrigerator
stained with rust.
The mugs are ugly
and there are only two forks.
The walls are black
and soft, the bed a balloon
of night-clothing.
The stairwell sloped
to a dragger’s pace.

There are big windows
with blind-slats dusty
and gray. Street life
goes all night and at dawn
freedmen shout and
laugh outside the kitchen.

Where does life begin and end?
In the lamb or the cotton?
My pillow is my friend.

Source: Poetry (December 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2011
 Fanny  Howe


Fanny Howe is the author of more than 20 books of poetry and prose. Howe grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and studied at Stanford University. “If someone is alone reading my poems, I hope it would be like reading someone’s notebook. A record. Of a place, beauty, difficulty. A familiar daily struggle,” Fanny Howe explained in a 2004 interview with the Kenyon Review. Indeed, more than a subject or theme, the process of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Disappointment & Failure, Life Choices, Time & Brevity

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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