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Loss And Loneliness and Aloneness:

My last letter said
goodbye forever. Maybe
today an answer

I wrote this in 1967. I'd written haiku earlier, some good enough to be accepted by a haiku magazine (which, however, folded before it could publish them, but I've since had haiku in various publications; we poets like to have our poems everywhere, like lovers who have each other in strange places for the thrill of it). I think one of the first, which you'll find under "autum" was "Leaf butterflies/ pretend they will never/ touch the ground" from 1965. But the above was the first time I knew I'd written a haiku, my own, not a shadow of someone else's. When I wrote this, I felt I'd begun to know what a haiku was.

My eyes meet my eyes
in the mirror, asking
where are her eyes?

Though one knows he is missing someone, it is surprising to see the naked grief in the mirror. One (phooey: I) had thought it better covered up than that. It's like being at a party for an hour, then discovering one's zipper has been down the whole time.

Folding only my laundry
since she left,
underwear looking lonely.

At a movie by
myself. Why not? Don't you go
to this poem alone?

After much search I find
the lost key in the lock
where I left it.

Leaving the restaurant
My place or mine?

Stared down
by an empty chair.

Empty lawn chairs
out in the rain. The house too
is empty. And the street.

Something particularly forsaken about a lawn chair, ghost of sunny days, along in the rain.

Rain. A car being towed away.
Somewhere the owner
doesn't know yet.

Home from school, kicking
a stone ahead of me. There's
a good kick! Alone.

But not necessarily lonely.

Nail trimming. A piece
disappears in the rug--lost
in my own bedroom.

A siren. Someone
in trouble far away in
space or, in time, me.

Thanksgiving night. In the big
parking lot, one car.
On the sidewalk, me.

"Closed For The Season"
I too. Not even autumn
can touch me.

Since you left, each leaf
still sings for me but now
can't carry a tune.

Why do these homes
have such huge lawns
with no kids playing?

Islands of plant life
in the big parking lot, me
in my car, writing.

Another car --
My and three dog's heads go up
quick! then down – not her.

Hundreds of species
of bugs go extinct each year.
Is man an island?

Most of the trees are gone.
The wind's voice
grows hollow.

I touch
where you are soft and your face

Note: This hardening is not erotic. It's what happens when the lover is hiding something and withdrawing from you, trying to disguise this, but is ambushed by a tender touch.

Waiting up for you,
the clock trying to comfort me
with tick-talk.

A candidate for senryu, relying as it does on the tick-tock/tick-talk pun.

I hurt! hurt! hurt! hurt! -
Therefore I am

I wake up alone...
Who pulled the wife
out from under me?

At the house - the dogs
glad to see me. Don't they know
I'm out of favor?

Now that you are gone,
I yearn for all the things I
loved you in spite of.

Where do you press your finger
to vomit up
three years?

That rainbow stirs a
longing. Where are you? I'll eat
a big meal and read.

"Party of one?"
asks the hostess;
some party.

And yet they will persist on pretending they can't count you. I suppose the question is legitimate: How many are coming? How large a table will you need? Are others coming? And yet the question ("One?" or "Party of one?") never sounds more inane than when received by someone who has recently been left by a spouse or lover. But why should they be able to count you? You don't count any more!

Alone, Saturday
night. Everyone else is a
couple. Eat slower.

I need a fine-edged
probe to touch the sweetness in
this pain: Haiku, please.

I'm tired of crying.
It's been raining all day -
that will have to serve.

She's with another man.
So what. I'll be one
myself someday.

Dear Reader,
I wish I had a wife
just like you.

A sound...gunshot?
"A car backfire," instantly
I tell myself.

This is another kind of aloneness, the kind one feels in a world of fear and distrust, in which one needs to deny what one has heard, in order to avoid feeling obliged to get entangled with others. If it were a gun shot, one would feel a need to do something. It might be dangerous. And if one did nothing, there'd be guilt. This is the one of the worst ways to be alone, in the company of a swarm of fears and computations. And yet, most of us spend a lot of time there.

Raindrops on the roof,
still a gentle sound, but now
they'd sting your eyes.

The loss here is of a loving concept of nature and of an environment - the shock of acid rain.

Watching the laundromat show:
A machine vomits suds.
Someone not there.

Over the highway
butterflies play tag, vanish
beneath the hood's edge.

Rain. I walk part way
to where I don't want to go,
then take a bus home.

Bus, one person
per seat, each half empty --
we can't sit together.

He's failed. He sits straight,
but is dead -- see his eyes?
Speak to him.

Someone has just had a loss, learned of a defeat, sits stiffly, bucking up, but turning dead inside.

Spring. Everywhere
new buds, peeps of green,
no one to show them to.

Part of loss is the renewal of it every time you see something you would normally have pointed out to the person who is not there (and yet is too much there).


she shies away from his touch:

A pun and another haiku on the way those who are unfaithful find excuses to withhold themselves, just as they withhold the truth of what they've been doing.

Please just kill me --
don't lie to me so I don't know
I'm already dead.

When you're being betrayed by someone and don't know it - or prevent yourself from knowing it because you don't want it to be true, a deadness enters your life. The things you are used to enjoying have lost their savor. You don't know why. When you find out why (for example, that she'd been with another guy on the sly for a year), that whole period becomes retroactively dead, though there's some relief to knowing why you've felt so dead for a year. It's worse feeling dead and not knowing why.

Alone I drive farther,
but in motel rooms
only double beds.

After my divorce,
Mom still has the wedding picture --
turned face down.

1967, I visited home months after my divorce, noticed a picture on top of a book shelf, lying on its face, picked it up: It was the wedding picture.

Awake a long moment
with the ghost of her touch...
sheet wrapped around me.

She slips in the tub,
breaks her hip -- pain! and so

Passed in the hall,
someone whistling a tune
I loved once.

For scholars: It was a hall at a college, and the tune was an electric guitar piece called "Apache". Can't recall the name of the group.

Space, everywhere,
endless, but her absence
drowns it.

Betrayed again,
the sleeve with her heart on it
becoming threadbare.

I wanted her
to return my love - she
returned it unused.

We meet, we part - ah,
life applauds, and you and I
are its hands.














Loss and Loneliness and aloneness


Old Age


A Poet's Life








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