Elegy for a Suicide

By John Poch John Poch
She always liked to blow the candles out. Fact:
there’s only so much you can do with friction
and an intentional hand before the hand burns.
The sound that scissors make in a child’s hand
while crunching construction paper aches when
she grows older. Even popcorn ceilings lose that style,
that feeling of a cereal freshly drowned in milk.
Ah, the white beneath things. And the black below that.
We come down from bunk beds. We come down from
the funky reds and yellows of the spring’s summer tanager
gone in fall. We fail to see the most vivid birds
high in the trees on the other side of leaves.

Where did those sad seeds come from or how take root?
Her departure spun out of some samara down into a maple
shadow that shadows well into night’s sweet syrup.
O host, we don’t know the words for this country,
and this country pretends we have no knife,
no guns in the bedroom, no large car for escaping
or crashing over hard hillsides or into houses.
We stuff our faces, blank as pills, with pills.
No one wants to open that book, but it’s a book.

Source: Poetry (October 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

October 2012


John Poch was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. He earned an MFA from the University of Florida and a PhD from the University of North Texas. The inaugural Colgate University Creative Writing Fellow, Poch also received the “Discovery”/The Nation Prize. His collections of poetry include Poems (2004), Two Men Fighting with a Knife (2008), and Dolls (2009). He teaches at Texas Tech University.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Life Choices

Poetic Terms Elegy, Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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