(Reprinted WITHOUT permission... I hope I don't get sued one of these days)
by Dorianne Laux
Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook, not
the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication, not
the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punch line, the door or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don't regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Relax. Don't bother remembering any of it. Let's stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.
"Antilamentation" by Dorianne Laux, from The Book of Men. © W. W. Norton & Company, 2011.
Rule: Okay, this isn't really a rule, but I'm getting my daily dose of poetry from "The Writer's Almanac," which is the e-newsletter from Garrison Keillor, of "A Prairie Home Companion" fame. I highly recommend subscribing to it, to get more reading of awesome stuff into your life. Then again, you might be reading that week's post from me. Oh well. My favorite lines are "You were meant to inhale those smoky nights / over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings / across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed / coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches."