Finding Yourself (in Another’s Writing)


One of the many small pleasures in writing is discovering just how much we all think alike. In my upcoming book, a poem I wrote (scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of Roanoke Review) focuses on a discussion between my wife and me about what to do with our cremains (that’s “cremated remains” to laymen). The poem is humorous because, once all is said and done (well-done, as it’s a very high temperature), death is humorous. In its dark way, I mean.

Off and on, I’ve been poking through Rae Armantrout’s new collection, Partly. In it, she has a poem that treats on the same topic–a married couple planning for the big (and I do mean “big”) after. It did my heart good to flatter myself (because nobody else will) with the aside, “Great minds think alike!”

Here’s Armantrout’s poem, “Around,” for your reading pleasure:


Time is pleased
to draw itself


permit itself
pendulous loops,

to allow them

this meaning

as it goes



Chuck and I are pleased
to have found a spot
where my ashes can be scattered.
It looks like a construction site
but it’s adjacent
to a breathtaking, rocky coast.
Chuck sees places
where he might snorkel.
We’re being shown through
by a sort of realtor.
We’re interested but can’t get her
to fix the price.


“The future
is all around us.”

It’s a place,

where we don’t exist.


Funny, no? And poignant in its way, for if there’s one thing we cannot abide, it’s “not existing.” The last time I tried that, I can’t tell you how bored I was.

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