I Write So I Don’t Have to Look People in the Eye

She tells me she took a full bottle, my best friend.

I imagine all that medicine in that little body,

hunting for what so desperately

needed curing.

She tells me she left a note.

She says that feeling when she came out of it –

opening her eyes to the plaster

of her bedroom ceiling, disappointment –

she never wants to feel that way again.


And Saturday night, he tells me –

from across the coffee between us,

as if miles away,

he says, “I tried to kill myself this summer.”

And I can’t say the word “suicide” while

looking someone in the eye.


My words are empty palms holding out nothing

but I offer them anyway.


15 thoughts on “I Write So I Don’t Have to Look People in the Eye

  1. Those “empty palms” of your grabbed a double handful this time. Your words drop a stone into a dark pool. Plunk. Good and deep. The ripples move outward from your heart into mine. Silent tears inside.

  2. Natalie,

    The title is as captivating as the poetry, I thought. But then I realized that of course the poem is a whole thing. The title isn’t the “name” of the poem, it is the beginning of our experience.

    I run out of words when I try and describe my sense of your artistry.

    I have returned to writing this week after a long time away. I got up before dawn each morning with no agenda, no plans- just that blank screen. To my surprise, I wrote what felt like poems, that is, one each morning. I posted the first one this morning- felt somehow scarier than the other posts. But I posted.

    I was also struck by the apparent bleakness of the writing, as I read back over the work of this week. But I didn’t feel discouraged or sad. Just what I felt.

    Much regard.


    1. Tom,

      As always, your comments are thoughtful and kind. Thank you for providing insight into the title, and for thinking so complexly about my poetry.

      Perhaps it is necessary – this “return to writing” after a long time away. We need the thirst to drive us back to the well.

      I’m glad to see your writing on WordPress again. I’m looking forward to seeing where your thoughts take us next ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. yes, so often
    the open hand
    the offered shoulder
    the empty words
    are all we have
    are all we can give.

    These are hard things.
    You have brought them from the depths of that dark pool
    and into the light.

    1. Carl Phillips once said, “I think to be useless doesn’t have to mean not somehow mattering.” I think about that a lot. I like to believe that there is significance in the empty hand, reaching out of the dark.

      Thank you, Johnny. Lifting things from dark pools would not matter if there were no witnesses. Thanks for being around to see.

      1. Lovely quote–yes, “accomplishments” do not define value, especially in art. We do not have to have a “reason” for doing this, and yes, this poem too is an “empty hand, reaching out of the dark”! Love that line! May be I’ll steal it for the title of a poem…..potterfan willing, of course. Fits right in to Biespiel’s ideas in “The Poet’s Journey,” which I will again recommend (the conclusion came out a little while ago.

        There you go again, inspiring me.

Thoughts? I love those.

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