20 January 2020

My father died, just yesterday, and mom
About a year ago; I’m filled with grief
For things that were not, might have been, and now
Will never be. I’d felt that death would spare

My heart—at most I’d shed some tears—but oh!
The pain of what had never been rips through
Defenses thought well built and strips away
Illusions that I’d held. Dear God, my mind

Is wracked by questions! Are they safe? In what
State do they now endure? What truth explains
The pain of life and why do we exist?
Our best seems hardly good enough for this.

Oh God, I know that you know best; forgive
My doubts on life that first must die to live.



Charlie Bauer resides in Chapel Hill, NC and is a salesman for a commercial carpet manufacturer. 

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4 Responses

  1. David O'Neil

    The form and meaning come together nicely in this poem. While the poet reflects on his grief and doubt, the enjambment accentuates a feeling of brokenness. And the introduction of rhyme at the closing brings a sense of resolution, or perhaps resignation.

    I do have one minor critique. In the third quatrain, the use of the word “do” is somewhat unidiomatic: “What truth explains… why do we exist.” I assume the word is there for the sake of the meter. Maybe “why we should exist” would work??

  2. James A. Tweedie

    David, Well-formed and well expressed. Feelings–unanticipated feelings–similar to mine when my own father died some years ago. Your closing line echoes not only scripture but Eliot’s reflective words, “And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.”

  3. Patsy

    Really like this. The the guilt and uncertainty of the past and for the future we feel for ourselves when we lose someone. Strange old thing death.

  4. Monty

    Nice stuff, Charlie: a poem about grief seemingly straight from the horses mouth; containing some of the unanswerable questions that a death sometimes poses.

    I agree with David about the word ‘do’. I think you could get away with keeping it if you inserted a semi-colon:
    What truth explains the pain of death; and why do we exist?
    I feel that the two parts of the sentence need that separation. Alternatively, you could dispense with the ‘do’ and have:
    What truth explains the pain of death, and why we all exist?


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