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no children

Days line up like coffee cups beside the sink.
If I feel like death today, I must have faith
it is a passing thing, and the dishes
must be washed eventually, to be used again.
It is a pedestrian wisdom, manifest
that the ashtray is full once more,
and last night's moths trapped by the window
still live on this humid morning.
Long are the hours when whiskey whispers from the cupboard.
Down the street, young lovers walk:
I have no children.
I desire none.

Subsequently published in Andwerve, August 2006.

29 May 06

Rated 9 (8.7) by 2 users.
Active (2): 8, 10, 10, 10
Inactive (41): 1, 1, 4, 5, 5, 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10

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Wonderful!  I love this poem (not able to tell you why, though).  Favourite..
 — CervusWright

the first line is great (i myself have a row of tea cups on my desk, i keep forgetting to take them to the kitchen)
also, i really like line 9.
the ending is a little punchy, nice.
 — gears

      Thanks, gears; I felt like I needed to get the poem out & about in the last few lines, slightly less self-absorbed, but it turned on me and bit my hand.  Something about that feeling like everybody else in the world is happy and in love, urrgh, glad you like it.
     CervusWright, if I knew why I wrote this maybe I could guess why you like it, but I don't, so I'll just be happy it has some appeal for you.
 — mikkirat

I've got a near permanent row of coffee cups, glasses, and dishes on my desk too.
I love Lines five through eight. Great piece.
 — the_recluse

This made me so sad for some reason.  The reclusivity, the siren call of whiskey in the cupboard, the need (or fear) to have no children.  This reminds me of the the feelings of deep depression, the things that come upon you over and over, the small, the mundane, that you wish would stop, the things that keep you going because they are still there to be done and so you must keep going, doing small tasks until you get better.

I also want to reach into the poem and slap you hard for the last line and again, I have no idea why, but it makes my hand itch to do it.

Good thing you aren't reading this aloud, eh?  hahah
 — Isabelle5

Bkeakly descriptive.I have four and I'll sell you any of them cheap if you ever want to make a go of child rearing one day.
 — larrylark

What a sad yet poignant poem. Makes you want to read it in a hushed whisper, yet the message speaks volumes, if you get my drift. Wonderfully written.
 — marionette

I agree with all the comments, except that unlike Isabelle5 I don't want to reach into the poem and slap you.

This inspires a lot of response in me. The speaker is proud; she has grown (too) self-reliant to be weepy; it's an adult style of being depressed. It leaves me wanting to know more -- I want to know whether the speaker is being honest in the last 2 lines; I think maybe she's fooling herself.

Strong voice, good job.
 — leukothea

    Isabelle, I'd rather not be slapped, but thanks; I think I'll take a pass on that, as well as larrylark's offer of instant parenthood.  Besides, I think customs might stop them at the airport if we attempted it.  Thanks to marionette and the_recluse as well; and marionette, you're right, it is a quiet poem from a quiet morning.
   Finally, leukothea, thanks for the excellent read.  Sometimes we live despite ourselves, and the last two lines, well... God knows.  I sure don't.
   Thanks again,
 — mikkirat

Rethink 9 in this otherwise excellent work

The days are long when whiskey whispers from the cupboard.
 — DianaTrees

this is interesing. in a good way. and i like it.
 — missmurder

hammer-hit-nail until line 12, which is a letdown whatever the intention. Reflect on it until you realize exactly what it is that needs to be stated here.

I love this poem.
 — borntodance

Mikki, the slap isn't for the poet, you understand that!  When I've read this again and again, I don't get that same initial response, only a sense of deep weariness and soul-fatigue.  I'm interested in how children came up at all, right after the line about young lovers.  It seems a stretch, even though it works here.  I'm always interested in the poets thoughts so if you want to share...
 — Isabelle5

    DianaTrees -- thanks for the read.  Is it just "long are the hours" is a strange grammatical construction?  "The days are long" doesn't do it for me, especially as line 1 has 'Days' and line 2 'today'.  I might consider something like "the hours crawl."  I'll think about it, feel free to e-mail suggestions.
   missmurder, thanks.  And Grace, thanks; I know this may be an impossibility, but could you verbalize what you found disappointing about the final line?  I may be married to it, BTW, but not necessarily in present form.  There are few questions like the decision whether or not to rear children that really touch the third rail of the subconscious, so... so.
   Isabelle, Isabelle... hmm.  Like I told gears in my first reply, I felt a need to get the poem outside of the narrator's space (the house or apartment, if you will) and of course, living in a college town in summer, there are so many beautiful young people, many couples, walking happily, playing frisbee all afternoon, drinking beer on front porches on warm evenings, and of course, falling in love... and that starts the natural progression of love-marriage-babies-->fulfilling life, and I just got broadsided by bitterness.  Hmm.  Self-confession, I suppose, pro'ly TMI.  Be good, and congrats on your "Running with Knives," excellent poem.
 — mikkirat

i will read this to anyone on the verge of suicide.
 — unknown

I know about the love part, perhaps.  Maybe in time, children will form part of your picture, my poet friend.  Thanks for the explanation, it makes total sense.  Upgrading my rate (which didn't have far to go to hit the top).
 — Isabelle5

mikki, the depth of your poetry only seems to be exceeded by your grasp on a gauntlet of emotions: sadness without hopelessness, happiness without joy.  it's a pleasure to find works of literature like this here, those small gems that keep me digging through the piles of the newest poems.

 — unknown

how droll that your 2 poems are in back-back competition with each other.
( I initially posted this comment under "Summer Came" by mistake. )
 — unknown

Summer Came is not by Mikkirat.  
 — unknown

I know; I know. I apologized to poppy_seed. It was a mistake. pure + simple.

 — unknown

"Long are the hours" is, in your words, strange grammatical construction. Likewise, it's an inversion, rarely found in mouth or mind. It's with that phrase that I quibble.
 — DianaTrees

Just saw your reply on the thread about usernames: you're a he! Sorry that I didn't employ gender-neutral language in my comment -- I had assumed you were a she. Retrieving foot from mouth...

I agree that "long are the hours" is an unusual construction and that people don't usually talk like that, but in my opinion poetic diction can get away with a touch of grandiosity here and there.

Also, when I am depressed, I find my mental patterns slipping towards the melodramatic and epic. My most recent example had me saying out loud, in all seriousness, "Death is the best I can hope for." It's an unusual thing to say, but depression has its own rules. Others may have the same dramatic tendencies I do, and they may recognize line 9 as something they could have thought.
 — leukothea

Mikki R,
My quibble with your final line is that you're therein informing your readers that you are ambivalent about having children. We already know that. You wouldn't put it in the poem if you weren't ambivalent about it. I would like your last line to go one step further, and to examine the ambivalence. If I am totally off-track, please disregard my comments.
 — borntodance

    leukothea, do not worry about confusing my gender.  I'm really more gratified than you might imagine that this poem would strike home such that a woman such as yourself would believe this a woman's voice.  And having had my own struggles with "the D-word," I agree that being prone to hyperbole & melodrama are symptoms.  I am leaning toward keeping the construction of line 9 as it is, "Long are the hours..."   I don't think much more in this poem seems "poetic," so I may be able to live with it like it is.
    Grace, thanks again.  I'm thinking more of writing a separate poem on the subject; the title of this one was of course derived from the last two lines, but it is not the focus.  By the bye, one of my favorite lines of all time comes from "The Man on the Hotel Room Bed," a poem by Galway Kinnell, "Love is the religion that bereaves the bereft"; so much of life seems to be crossing a sea of sadness that is sometimes punctuated by islands of happiness, and that was what I was hoping to evoke here.
   Damn, I'm wordy today.  Thanks for reading, and thanks for your comments.
 — mikkirat

I see you're reading poetry live tonight -- If I lived nearer I'd definitely stop by! Have a great time... or should I say a productive time? Anyway, have the kind of time you want.
 — leukothea

Thanks, leukothea -- it should be a good night, I have not read out much the past six months or so, so... new faces, new crowd to inflict my art upon.  And I'm a bit curious, are you hours, or continents, away from KU?  There are occasional reads in Kansas City.
 — mikkirat

This wonderful, the line breaks are just right and the pace of the poem is slow and contained which works well with the poem's subject matter. I really loved the L1 & 9 the best. Somehow this piece really hit a chord with me, as you get older, some of us (or at least me) tend to internalize our sadness, observing what surrounds us and reflecting upon it silently. thanx for contributing such a beautiful poem.
 — redsky

 — listen

I'm honored, thank you both.
 — mikkirat

Oh my god thank you.

Thank you.
 — OKcomputer

ooh. this makes me sad... i like it tho! i love all of your metaphores, or what ever those things are! its really good!
 — popyelle

So poignant and sad , a wonderful piece of work mikki
 — violet

I have no children
I desire none

this is a difficult ending to read, mickey, but a faithful one as well, even more so when the reader can see the images as more than just metaphors.  Full ashtrays and the moths ... your home.

lawrence must be lovely in the summer, it was last year
 — slancho

I thought it would be fair to comment on one of your poems and return the favor.  I had no idea that you wrote this poem.  I always wind up coming back to this poem whenever I log on.  I like it so much.  Thanks of for sharing your truth with us.
 — colormehappy

I love it, the end is perfect!
 — unknown

There's something about ashtrays and moths that kinda grabs me.  I really like the "hermit"-like appeal of this poem from one recluse to another.  It's awesome.
 — starr

Hard boiled detective: that is all I have to say.
 — unknown

Depression often produces the best poetry.

Only those who have stared at its blank misery can understand the depths of its constructive meaning.

“Long are the hours”, is a perfect poetic expression only a fool would quibble with the meaning.

A poem that has all the aroma of last week’s underclothes still unchanged

 — unknown

I love this =)
 — unknown

the first line reminds me of "i have measured out my life with coffee spoons".
 — britta

Morchius, thanks.  I wondered, but decided the present construction of line 9 is good.

britta, thank you as well; my subconscious must have been playing with me when I put pen to paper in the first line, as Prufrock is one of my all-time favorites.  Here's the link in case you care to revisit Mr. Eliot

http://bartleby.com/198/1 .html

Thanks all,
 — mikkirat

Really excellent.  Can't think of a single critique.  I love this.
 — jerotich

I wish I had written this, lol.
It's so very good.
Perfection written so easily.
 — fallinforyou

As so many have said before me:
 — MEB

Yes, taking the poem outside the boundries which restict the protagonist fits well, however I, like most, do not place the same esteem on the final line as I do the others. Perhaps a line to infer the statement made and contrast with the outdoor images:

My house has a pleasant silence.
I have no children

or something similar  - just a thought?
 — unknown

actually the line would be better:

here in my house, there is a pleasent silence
I have no children
 — unknown

mikkirat, you write beautiful.

i have a suggestion:

it is pedestrian wisdom, manifest
that an ashtray is full once more,

i think i like the first line the best. it makes time incredible dispensable, which i suppose is a big problem with most lives... don't you think?
you connected this dispensability with an everyday ennui with so much perfection.
i love line 9. especially because i enjoy my whiskey. yes, i do, i do... lovely whiskey...
i am still struggling with the connection between 1-9 and 10-12. if i can't crack it, will you help me out? ;)
i'll ask if and when i do get frustrated enough...

 — unknown


 — unknown

This poem speaks on so many levels - I'm not surprised it's been voted favourite by so many - the atmosphere at the start is so well constructed with the details of the dirty dishes and the moth and the alcohol. If Paul Verlaine wrote any better about ennui (and he's the master) then I haven't read it yet - the children comment at the end jolts you back in your chair - the whole thing reminded me of an extract I read from a letter by Elizabeth Bishop when she returned to the US near the end of her life - that made me love it even more.
 — opal

outstanding - great - fabulous - says so much with such a small image - powerful. nice work.
 — Rousseau

nice poem.
 — hank

wow... this poem is perfect to read when you're sad or when your heart is in pain. it helps you loosen your grip and see things from a distance
nice work!
 — sparrow

this poem is fantastic...it's sad but true, bleak but graceful, written about you but speaks for so many, especially me. 10
 — bowiegirl

i want to stick this poem in my unfavourites list, but rafter hasn't made it yet.
I don't get all the fuss...or maybe i'm jealous..i dunno, either way YOU STINK
 — john_daker

shame on you, John. Sublimate.
 — borntodance

wonderful mood. this was really enjoyable.
 — topop

you sorta remind me of shakespeare.  the way your whole poem is a metaphor.

I don't get the part about not wanting children,  i don't see how it relates to the rest of it.

overall i think it was pretty good.
 — loveart416

Read Bukowski much?
 — unknown

This is better than Bukowski

Seriously I'm sick of people mentioning Bukowski
is that all you guys read
all I hear is Bukowski Bukowski Bukowski
and if its not Bukowski its Allen Ginsburg
Since most of you are American
Why don't you go read some.
James Wright
James Dickey
Galway Kinnell
Donald Hall
Robert Bly
Raymond Carver
The list could go on,
Oh wait its not on your syllabus
like keats, yeats, t.s eliot
or the beats arrgghhh

There is a world of poetry out there
discover it for yourself
 — Tentative

Sorry to rant at the unknown.
Mighty fine poem you have here
Mikkirat, no wonder it was published.
Great to see that you are a fellow galway Kinnell fan :)
 — Tentative

sorry, bud...
but i'm'a predictin'-
a lonely ol' passin' fer ya...
 — chuckles

Moths are tragic because they're inherently dusty.  
 — Infrangible

Days are just as you say. Well executed, there is longing in there somewhere, for something. This is just how I feel much , too much of the time. And I do have children. It doesn't help in the bleakest of days, but it makes you get up and wash the cups.
 — crimsonkiss

I strongly disagree with those who suggest that line 11 does not need to be said. If unsaid, we cannot know it’s true; even said, we cannot be sure.

And let’s take another look at how we got there: Place is not always necessary in a poem, but it’s crucial in this one. I was getting so suffocated in N’s surroundings that I longed for fresh air; then, mercifully, it comes in: “Down the street, young lovers walk:” where the colon leaves no question as to the origin of the last two lines: the frequent product of young love is, of course, children.  

Question for you, Mikki: were you tempted to break up line 9? I’m glad you didn’t; it’s a musical passage that’s easily whispered in one breath.

Masterfully written.

 — unknown

humm, i think it's line 12 which needs to be dropped. this is already worked into simple-talk and line 12 reads like you weren't sure that your message got put over with the sing-song.
 — bmikebauer

Oh, I meant line 12, not line 11.

I disagree, Mike. There's nothing previous to that line that gives an indication that children are not desired. In fact, if I lost my family I may well find myself living for the whiskey. How could you (and the others who agree with you) possibly understand that there is no longing for children before it is said? And though we could belabor the point, those last two lines say more than the sum of their parts.

 — unknown

Nice! :D
 — psychofemale

@ tentative
that's because hank is better than all those mentioned.
 — unknown

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