At the Poetry Reading

Sea of Faith

The Poems I Have Not Written

My Emotions Are Like Fish

When My Car Broke Down

Getting Where We're Going

Dear Internal Revenue Service

Of Love and Life Insurance: An Argument

Valid Photo Identification Required

Over and Under


Newborn, Brovetto Farm

On the Subway Platform

Of Love and Life Insurance: An Argument

“I need to accept you as you are,” she said,
“so you need to become the kind
of person I can accept.” I was
becoming bewildered, but I don’t
think that’s what she meant.
“Life insurance,” she said. “You
don’t have any life insurance.”
“But we’ve only known each other
three months. Aren’t we jumping ahead?”
“Look,” she said, “I don’t want
to have to take my child and move
back to Chicago and live with my mother.
I don’t want to have to take my child
to a public clinic. And I don’t want to
have to ride you and nag you and ask you
a hundred times about all this stuff.”
And then my heart fell from the sky
like a shot bird. “Is that how you
imagine a life with me?”
I guess being an unsuccessful poet
isn’t as attractive as it used to be.
But where’s the risky spirit,
the headlong leap into the vast
unknown of love, where anything
and everything might happen? Where’s
the wish to be surrounded by poems,
the great sustaining luxuries and dangers
of poems, or to make one’s life itself
a poem, unpredictable, meaning
many things, a door into the other world
through which even a child might walk?
Words have such power, I wanted to tell her.
You never know what may come of them.
Or who will be the beneficiary.


—from Help is On the Way, first published in The Gettysburg Review

Read it online HERE.