It's just poetry, it won't bite


11.29.16 Posted in today's words by

John Swetnam’s work has appeared in Proteus, Berkeley Fiction Review, Blast Furnace, Kestrel, Review Americana, and Carnival.  He is currently revising a novel set in Guatemala.

By John Swetnam

Someday, surrounded by lies,
I will leave this house we’ve made our own.
The children, careful to be optimistic,
Will speak with phony certainty of days,
quite soon,
And a return, whole and healthy.
They’ll help me to the car.
God forbid this day of all
I should slip the curb.
My elbows will be useful handles
Steadying each halting step.

I’ll have my part to play
And learned my lines with care.
Speaking of the spring to come,
Remembering the tulip bulbs they gave
which faithful bloom.
I’ll tell them the respect I have
For science, and not reveal
a frank prognosis, given in phrases anodyne,
That costly commitment might not be made
And later with regret rescinded.

Knowing the proper lies is vital,
There is no need to speak
Of fears that lie within this life or after
Of pains too sharp, humiliating loss of function
Trapped in sterile rooms until the end.

I lied to my father who, with stuttering lips,
asked when he would make it home
from the wheelchair where he slumped
shouted at by friendly nurses, just another occupant
of the anteroom to darkness.
“You’ve got to get a little stronger, Dad,” I said,
Knowing his house, already sold,
Already occupied with plans for renovation.
He nodded and whispered out “OK.”

One Response to “Lies”

  1. Bobbie Troy says:

    Wow, very powerful.

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