Sometimes Never

By Joyce Sutphen b. 1949 Joyce Sutphen
Talking, we begin to find the way into
our hearts, we who knew no words,
words being a rare commodity
in those countries we left behind.

Both refugees and similarly deprived,
we marvel at the many things there
are to say: so many variations
and colors of the same thought, so

many different lengths in the words
that line up together on our tongues.
No scarcity, no rationing, no
waiting in line in order to buy

the same answer we heard each time
we asked, that one word, owned by
the state, manufactured by the state,
serving all purposes equally alike:
No, No, No, and sometimes Never.

Source: Poetry (September 1998).


This poem originally appeared in the September 1998 issue of Poetry magazine

September 1998
 Joyce  Sutphen


Joyce Sutphen grew up on a farm in Minnesota. She earned a PhD in Renaissance drama from the University of Minnesota, and has taught British literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota. Her first collection of poems, Straight Out of View (1995), won the Barnard Women’s Poets Prize. Subsequent collections include Coming Back to the Body (2000), a Minnesota Book Award finalist, Naming the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT History & Politics, Love, Social Commentaries, Poetry & Poets, Relationships, Arts & Sciences, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

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