“At Least Metaphors Have My Back”


Yesterday I shared a poem from the collection I just finished reading. As is my habit before filing a book of poems, I’m following up with a second poem for those who enjoyed the first. In this case, it’s from Ben Purkert’s For the Love of Endings and, like more than one poem in the book, is inspired by an “Ex.”

The thought of considering your “ex” as inspiration for poetry never occurred to me. Of course, I have no “ex’s” to rely on. Only “presents” (without the gift wrapping, at least most days).

You, however, might have one or more of these inspirations in your writer’s tool box. Think of the arsenal people like Elizabeth Taylor had! But I digress. To B.P. Poem #2:


Dear Ex
Ben Purkert

I’m hardly alone–
like most men, I’ll gaze

at anything to avoid looking
inward. Like how a stream

reflects what surrounds
but never the face of

itself. I mean force, I mean–
forget it. Let’s cast ourselves

into a pond: a still surface
standing forever without

a break. Let’s freeze at
the tipping point when you

leave me, here in the heart
of this song. At least

metaphors have my back;
at least the swallows outside

my window sound into
each other. I hope they fly

so far south, they don’t
remember a thing.


Similar to the end of yesterday’s poem, “If I Shut My Eyes, Whatever Doors in Me Fly Open,” an aphoristic-style finish depending on personification and humor. These are good things to be dependent on.

The poem also gains some mileage at men’s expenses. A bit ironic, however, when a male poet writes “like most men, I’ll gaze / at anything to avoid looking / inward.” The line hopes you remember that men feel safest at surface level and hopes you forget that poets look inward for a living (if poetry can be defined as “a living”).

Humor again, we’ll call it. And safe at the plate, if a baseball metaphor is willing to have my back.