Without a bedtime story or a lullabye
the evening’s blush sinks to a deeper red
then slips into a slit between the earth and sky
leaving our goodbyes lingering, unsaid.

I do not want to go, or let you go.
I want to dare this ending, call its bluff,
delay our parting with a sudden overflow
of words—too many and yet not enough–

while you, my dearest one, would choose
blunt disappearance, the mute way
to stanch an agony—those deeper blues
along the skyline fire—as if to say

the sun rises, the sun also sets.
So let it set. Let us let it. Let’s.

71 responses »

    • I wonder why we are so made to want to hold on to people, places and things….and most of all to time….that puzzlement seems what I have most in mind lately. I am so very glad the blogging current landed us as fellow swimmers, drifters, water-treaders, this year, Pauline, and look forward to this coming one to be full of good things.

    • Yes, I do know that, John, my dearest, oldest (though slightly younger than me) reader. But you come back to tell me again, and that’s a precious thing. Happy, happy new year…. of poetry and everything else!

    • I want to say “please don’t fear, never fear…” but that would be senseless in a poem about letting go of the past…and you are about letting go of the future….didn’t you just say that “Quantus tremor est futurus….” is one of your favorite tunes? There was a time when we —my soulmate and I— would occasionally bring up the subject of: Who will go first? Probably our most fearful thing to think about. Now that I know the answer, I am in the aftermath….where there will never again be any fear. Happy New Year, my friend. I can’t wait to read all your poems.

  1. If I look at this as an end of the year poem I say call the bluff. Let it go. In fact, kick the bastard to the curb. But as a poem about loss and sudden, unexpected, wordless departures it feels like “the deeper blues along the skyline fire.” I worry if I forget the loss of someone I loved then I will forget the person and this feels like the deepest blue imaginable.

    • It really started out as an end of the year poem, a poem about not dwelling upon the past. But I didn’t want it to be about the future, either because that’s usually another kind of trap: worry and fear. It finally just became fueled by deep personal feelings of loss; I have always, always, hated goodbyes. I don’t worry about forgetting the loss; in fact I want to forget it; It’s not part of all that was good. I want to forget anything and everything that was ever difficult or hurtful, but my stupid mind won’t let me. And that’s what makes the future fearsome. I’ve come to the conclusion that nothing is ever really lost.

    • Thanks, Heather…you’ve had such an amazing year this past year….what on earth will occur next? I guess there are things you do want to say good-bye to, and other things about which the good-byes are most bitter-sweet. We are having some poignant moments now….but the same-old-same-old will probably raise its head soon—maybe even before January is over! Cheers!

  2. very moving, Cynthia! the truth of it and your craft. Thank you for this….today.
    I, too, love hearing you read it to us….

    • You’re a treasure, Babe, I love your directness (though I’m sure it gets you into trouble at times) and how you say not nothing. If someone likes a poem and neglects to say so, that’s one more ghost in my mind saying it must not be a very good poem. Sometimes we construe silence as disapproval when it’s not that at all; it could simply be not knowing what to say. Thank you.

          • I snuck back here to ask a nervy favor. Would you be willing to check out a fellow blogger’s poem? She doesn’t know I’ve asked anyone. Just sneak on over and comment only if you like it? If yes, great, if not, all good. : ) Here is the…(link edited out..) Thank you, in the event.

            • Yes, you are probably the nerviest person I currently know. 🙂 I did go to that site and did read the poem. I think I understand why you like it and want to be supportive. There’s a lot going on, there, but I wasn’t moved to comment at the moment.

              • Thank you very muchly much, Cynthia. Regarding my nerviness, as the well tent-ensconced camel: Perhaps, since the blogging world is so small, and I’d hate to ever cause embarrassment (other than to the camel, who does quite a good job at it)–perhaps, if you have a moment more of absolutely nothing better to do than to inconvenience yourself on my account–perhaps, if you could edit out the original link, so that the blogger never learns of my request? I PROMISE never to make a similar one!:
                X my ❤️

  3. To let go…one of our most difficult lessons. To face the fear and realize we lose nothing that is not ours anyway! So easy to say, difficult to live!
    This is a beautiful poem Cynthia – strikes the heart!…..
    Wishes for a Happy and fulfilling New Year!

  4. The ending is the final set … well done … and the only way it rises again is to let it set. Happy New Year to you … and may 2016 be good to you … and thanks for the cheer you’ve given me in 2015.

  5. There’s no way to recall the sun – a lovely, sad metaphor. There is always this discrepancy about what we would choose for ourselves, versus what we would choose for others we don’t want to lose. The last line works so well for me.

    • As I mentioned to Lisa, above, the last line occurred to me first. It swam around in my thoughts, which is often how a poem starts—with just a line, and language collects around it. More often, the line becomes the first line of the poem, but this time it was the last. The process could never be called mechanical, though that is some part of it; but the “other parts” of the process of writing never cease to amaze me.

  6. The grace of some of your traditional verse is always inspiring me, Cynthia. When a poet is really hitting on all cylinders, the lines seem almost “meant to be,” as if somehow the poet is discovering what is being said rather than forcing it into being. Ah,
    the sun rises, the sun also sets.
    So let it set. Let us let it. Let’s.

    Without a bedtime story or a lullabye
    the evening’s blush sinks to a deeper red
    then slips into a slit between the earth and sky
    leaving our goodbyes lingering, unsaid.
    What a poem!

    • What a wonderful way of putting it…” the discovering of what is being said rather than forcing it into being”…..It doesn’t always happen that way, but when it does, pure magic….as I am sure you have sometimes experienced in your own poetic work, Thomas. The traditional forms, to me, are the voices of past poets, the sounds and rhythms of a language and culture as it developed over time,—and from ordinary speech, as Robert Frost would have it. The hope always, is to continue to be a link with them, but in the diction of today. Thank you so much for noticing that about this one!

  7. Having had six eggnogs and already nursing the seventh, I feel unable to comment on your poem, as the furniture is meandering in the hallway–and adjectives, as well as stubborn adverbs, are float by. So typical when the sun goes down.

    The sun–I fear and hope–does not follow our calendar (this is why we have leap years–sorry, it’s the eggnog) and that torpid bright spot doesn’t think either that there’s anything special about tonight, really. Neither do I incidentally. I did, however, find these particular lines of yours to be rich (like eggnog—an irresistible simile) and pregnant with meaning (no simile there–as I unaware of any good gynecological similes). Oh, I promised I wouldn’t say anything about your poem. Must be the extra rum speaking—Jamaican I think, but I can’t properly make out the label. Still, I think it’s one of your best (and that’s saying something).

    Happy New Year, Cynthia. (Go easy on the eggnog)

    • Your imitation of a lovely drunk with just a soupçon of maudlin is quite wonderful. My hunch is that you are not a tippler at the punch mostly, but it’s that time of year and..well, eggnog’s lovely velvety custardy silken richesse is poetic in itself, and covers a multitude of sins, be they Jamaican rum, French cognac, or Kentucky bourbon. I’m only grateful you have not invoked the Bible or Hemingway who both said The Sun Also Rises, for then we would be discussing bullfights and the color red, rather than nog.
      But the sun will rise again, and did I ever tell you? You are such a sweet golden ray of whatever sunshine falls my way these days, in this incomprehensible world. Happy New Year, dear Prospero!

      • But I did invoke Hemingway–the rum! Try to pay attention, Cynthia!

        Is it too early to ask what your new year’s resolution will be? I’m just putting together the text for last year’s resolution. How’s that for incomprehensible?

        • How was I to know the rum was about Hemingway? I only know his academic reputation and his book titles; when I tried to read the actual books, I never could get through them.

          My resolution is adapted from the second verse of an old country and western American song……

          “I’ll eat when I’m hungry,
          I’ll drink when I’m dry.
          And if moonshine don’t kill me
          I’ll live ’til I die.

          • For this year, I’m thinking of distilling something for Six Characters in Search of a Country and Western Song, modeled after Pirandello’s play–something about progressing illogically. There’s far too much logic to death.

            • That is a most interesting play from which you are pilfering. I didn’t have quite enough sitzfleisch to last through the whole thing, once, in Harvard Square, and walked out before the final curtain. And speaking of the final curtain and the logic thereof, I do think your idea of distillation has merit for people like us….in fact, in poetry distillation is all.

              • Naturally I meant distilling something FROM Six Characters… must be the eggnog.

                But I think you are onto something of moment with your poetry is distillation. Once my hangover passes (and here I’m thinking by the Ides of March) I might even be able to make some sense of it.

                Revised resolution: not so much rum in the eggnog.

                • I don’t think we should have to wait that long as you deprive us from more of your peerless stories, so….hair of the dog, Prospero, hair of the dog!

                  (I don’t know what that really means or entails but think it will help you to emerge from your nogmatic slumber. )

                • Naturally there’s a lot of real dog hair floating around here–and it also appears to be an effective antidote to the nogdoggery of cream and bourbon (spiked with a little rum). Here’s to dog hair–cheers.

  8. So powerful — a soulful word-song! Thank you for sharing this. It’s a treasure. I hope your 2016 is everything you want/need it to be, and more. 🙂

    • Hello Lance!!! The silence at your site has had me hoping it was not illness or misfortune but a well-deserved respite from blogging which quieted your posting for a while. We finally had some snow after Christmas, but not enough to make life difficult. I trust you had some, too, and some nice invigorating temperatures to contrast and send you indoors to a cozy hearth. This poem began with the image of sunset.. the final line tries to mimic its stages, visually and metrically. And now for the dawn. Happy new year to you and Raul….may it bring you many blessings!

      • …how very kind. Thank you for your concern and we are well, but Lance is l-a-a-a-zy. Our little gallery is shut for building renos the month of January, so the pressure to paint is off. It is always nice to have enough snow to know it’s New England, but not so much as to feel like Finland (smile). It is such an apt end-of-year poem, and yes….an actively-reflective New Year to you, dear friend.

  9. Aye, the sun also sets… Yesterday Maureen and I were at the funeral reception for a remarkable lady writer and poet who gave so much to our local community and was loved by many. A young Asian woman began a brief, tearful address with the words, “She was a grandmother to me.”

    Your beautiful poem about loss has this morning given me long pause for thought. I guess we all have to cope in our own way.

    My very best wishes to you for 2016.

    Fond regards,


    • Thank you, Paul. This poem began as the last line…I was toying with it, pen on page, and it seemed—almost visually as well as metrically—to move like the last moments of a setting sun…something with which to express the ending year…time lost. But it isn’t lost at all, is it.
      A good new year to you and Maureen, and one filled with fine poetry!

  10. A wonderful poem Cynthia – I read and sense the symbolism of the rising and setting sun within your words. It’s fills my mind with the rush of suddenness and being ready to let go. Yes, we must – great last line.

    • Hello Mary! Happy New Year! I’m glad you like the last line because it’s my favorite,too, and it was very oddly easy to make it work as the key to this formal sonnet, to my surprise! It’s always fun when more modern ways of expression fit into traditional forms, so the old and the new work together. Thank you for reading, and liking it!

  11. You are pondering vanity, the passage of time, loss, death, and our attempts to bargain it away, in such creative and compelling ways.
    Did you see Bowie’s Dark Star Video just released and made as he was dying? It was interesting.
    Have you always been thinking about these themes or is it more recent?
    I know I have been thinking about these themes for decades and maybe it is helping because I see some progress in me. I always felt in order to live a present life one needs to be very familiar with death. It is amazing to me how many avoid the subject entirely. I am glad that you don’t and I for one, and very comfortable talking about it.
    There was something you said in the poem before this one that I have to go back and find, it interested me.

    • I went to have a look at the Bowie video. To me it is a piece of unnecessary ugliness, a work of the imagination in the tradition of so much that has always made us fear death. The truth is, we only have ideas of what it is like to die; no one who has actually done it has come back to tell us; we have seen others die, and projected our own thoughts on that. When I have been nearby someone dying, I did not see that fear and ugliness in them, but quite the opposite. When one is full of the energy of life, one imagines dying as a bad thing…..but just imagine, when one is bone tired after a long day, how welcome and delicious is the prospect of a good night’s sleep. Each thing in its turn. What prompts the praise for that Bowie video escapes me.

  12. “Beginning is beginning once again—
    the gate swings open, Janus grants
    another chance, a cleaner slate.
    The little wink of possibility
    presents itself: all could be more.”
    These were the lines from the other poem that interested me. Did you mean, you wake for another day and have a chance to do things, I don’t know, a bit better? And you aren’t so thrilled about it? Or is that entirely my projection? Probably! Which is why it might be a pain for a poet to talke to her reader. Just tell me I’m way off wrong. I want to know.
    I like the idea that everyday we live, we have have a chance at improvement. God knows I have room for lots! Of course I wouldn’t want to live toooooo long and have to keep trying to improve.
    I’d think, “Ok. Get over it already. This is as good as I get!”

    • Wow, Cindy, you are doing a lot of thinking about all this…and so am I. Death is never far from my thoughts, and I agree that people are afraid to ponder it, mostly. My Dad was an undertaker/funeral director; I grew up hearing the wailing and smelling the flowers in the parlor way downstairs as I lay in my bed at night. It all became a normal part of life—as things do, in children. (We think the world outside is the same as in our own families, and it’s a revelation when we realize it’s not necessarily so!)
      Since I suddenly lost my soulmate and partner, a few years ago, after 43 years of life together, and came to the edge of a precipice that nearly ended my own life, I am not afraid of it anymore. Don’t laugh, but I don’t think of improving anymore either! It’s not a case of thinking I’m already so wonderful, just that I no longer see life as being about that. (To me it’s more about what Italo Calvino says, in “Invisible Cities”—see the passage I quoted to Exiled Prospero in the comments of the poem “January.”)
      In these two poems that you refer to, I am pondering what occupies me most these days….the idea that there is light and dark, good and evil, up and down, etc….that we can’t have one without the other, it’s all of a piece, and that there is wisdom in recognizing the insecurity of life, the impermanence of everything, including that ego identity we have allowed to be created as ourselves.

      I am touched that you give my poems such attention and thought. It’s always amazing to read what people find in them that I didn’t even see there myself! Thank you so much for being one of those readers I treasure most. I know that we two Cynthia”s share something deeper than our name.

      • oh, Cynthia! I am reading this now, nearly a year after you wrote this poem…I have listened to it many times and again tonight, Christmas Eve! And now you have left us – and what you write here to Cindy is such a testament to all of us of where you were with all of this…
        Thank you! your words are blessing me again today! and I know I will hear your response to what I write here tonight as I sleep tonight,,,,,Here I am!

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