A Note to Karen

It’s been a bumpy ride,
With bruises long endured
By both the groom and bride.
At last, my heart is cured

Of you, and I am much
Obliged that you agree
Our lives should never touch
Again, so now I’m free

To say what’s on my mind.
Essentially it’s this:
If I should ever find
Another nemesis

Like you, I’ll float to Hell
Convinced that hope is barren—
The proper way to spell
Your name, my dear, is “Charon.”

First published in Lucid Rhythms (2008)



C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden.  Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India.  His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.

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20 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    Ha! What a great and unexpected ending. I hope this is purely fictive, Kip, and not an account of a real nemesis you endured.

    Notice how the poet has used enjambment to link all four quatrains, thus giving the trimeter lines an even faster flow than usual.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Evan hoped the same thing, Joseph. Fortunately this is just another fictive artifact.

  2. Brian Yapko

    C.B., this poem is great sardonic fun. I, too, hope it’s not autobiographical. What I really like are the extremely subtle hints of the surprise ending. The bumpy ride (which, with the benefit of hindsight, may well refer to a boat); the throwaway use of the word “nemesis” which (with hindsight) invokes Greek mythology, and the floating to Hell which logically ripens into the Charon reference. Well done!

    • C.B. Anderson

      If this poem had been written recently, then perhaps I would have made more of the “Karen” idea. As it is, I think I probably just stumbled upon the Karen/barren/Charon coincidence. Such termagants really exist, I’m sure, and I’m just glad I didn’t marry one of them.

      • Gail Naegele

        Likely the most powerfully sophisticated parting disdain I’ve ever read. The phrasing and flow is excellent, and I agree the turnaround phrasing of stanzas enhance the flow even more! The comment of Bryan about the Mythological context was very interesting. Well done, thanks for the read! G.

      • C.B. Anderson

        Thank you, Gail. I hope you hang around hereabouts for a good long time, and I am glad that it was a note I did not actually have to write

  3. Margaret Coats

    One more little artistic detail: the only feminine rhyme in the poem is the last–looking back to the title. Fun all round in the lucid rhythms, if not in the topic.

    • C.B. Anderson

      I might go to hell, Margaret, but I won’t be ferried there by my wife, thank God. Writing small poems like this is indeed a lot of fun. I believe that the name of the journal refers to a line in a Wallace Stevens poem (“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”): And lucid, inescapable rhythms.

    • C.B. Anderson

      David Landrum, the editor of Lucid Rhythms, had a good thing going for several years. He is also a damn good poet, and if you ever come across his name, he is almost always worth a read.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Fun for one and all, I guess, Yael. I thank you for the comment, and you are welcome to the chuckles.

  4. Jeff Eardley

    Thanks for two new words for me, “Charon” and the wonderful “termagant” which my wife will think is a compliment when I call her that tomorrow. This is a most enjoyable antidote to any slushy love poetry that appears here next week.

    • C.B. Anderson

      As a matter of fact, Jeff, when I sent this poem to Evan as part of a group of three, I described them as anti-Valentine’s Day poems. I’m glad you caught my underlying intent. A word to the wise: Be careful what you call your wife; she might not be pleased to be called a shrew, unless she has a great sense of humor.

      • Julian D. Woodruff

        To me the most fun aspect of Karen, CB, is that it’s for once a guy grousing about the woman in his life rather than a woman complaining about how wretched her man and all others are.
        The latter category is maybe best represented by the work of a man–Cole Porter’s “I hate men” (speaking of shrews).

      • C.B. Anderson

        As for me, Julian, I think the direction of such problems is about 50/50.

  5. David Watt

    Kip, you make a strong case for taking great care in choosing a life partner. There are definitely plenty of Karens out there for the unwary.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Yes indeed, David, though I suppose that where you live there are more Kylies than Karens.

      • David Watt

        We do have our share of Kylies. In fact, one of our neighbors was a Kylie M.

  6. Tamara Beryl Latham

    CB: Karen/Charon. Too funny!

    You said: “I described them as anti-Valentine’s Day poems. Be careful what you call your wife; she might not be pleased to be called a shrew, unless she has a great sense of humor.”

    My reply: Your wife could also turn the tables on you in a “Right back atcha” moment. 🙂

    Charon is also a satellite of Pluto. With regard to Disney’s “Pluto” (the dog) you might just as easily be referencing the line, “All men are dogs” or
    stretching the dog/satellite image: “Laika,” was the first dog in space from Russia that Newsday referred to as “mutnik.” LOL!

    So, from her (your wife’s) perspective: “Happy Valentine’s Day.” : -)

    • Tamara Beryl Latham

      C.B. Anderson,

      As an aside, I thought about my response to you all night and wanted you to know I was just joking. Hope you didn’t take my comment seriously.

      Your poem was excellent.


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