“Antilamentation” by Dorianne Laux (repost)


(read by Christy)

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.

~ Dorianne Laux, from The Book of Men: Poems

originally posted: 8/30/2014

16 thoughts on ““Antilamentation” by Dorianne Laux (repost)

    1. Indeed, indeed. 7 years on May 6. I’m not sure I’m “grateful” for my past, but I no longer wish to close the door on it. Every mistake led me to arrive here…and “here” is pretty sweet.:)

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      1. Mike Mirarchi

        Congratulations on your upcoming anniversary, Christina! That’s awesome! I’m not sure I’m grateful for my past either, and there’s still part of me that wishes I could shut the door on it, but I think I’m making progress. I’m glad your “here” is pretty sweet. “You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake . . .” I love that line!

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      1. Mike Mirarchi

        Yes! I love that poem you posted! I’m glad you’re getting into Barbara Crooker’s work. I think she really is brilliant. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, lovely! I found myself smiling when I read not to regret the red dress and toe-crimping shoes…”don’t regret those” Makes me wonder if she was giving a nod to Kim Addonizio and her “red dress” poem. 🙂 They did a book together, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

      Been thinking of you and Buddy. Hope you’re doing okay hon. ❤️

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    1. Well that’s simply awesome, thank you! I have been trying to post daily in honor of Poetry Month….but haven’t “posted” that intention in case I jinx myself. Thanks for the extra motivation to see it through this month. I’ve been enjoying posting more and hearing from readers I don’t often hear from…so thanks for That! Love to you and your family, christy

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  1. avisannschild

    Ahhh, this poem made me cry. (This is the part that really got me: “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.”)

    I’m glad I found your site — you’re introducing me to so much great poetry! (I’m a very recent subscriber. I found your site because I was looking for poems about horses — which led me to “Horses” by Jim Harrison.)

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    1. Those lines get me too…ugh! Laux can certainly kick you in the gut (in a good way). Along with Pastan, Oliver, and Shearin, she’s definitely one of my favorites.

      I LOVE that you found me via a Harrison poem (via a search on horses). What a fabulous person he was, very supportive of his fellow writers and poets. I need to share more of his work.

      A couple more horse poems to check out: https://wordsfortheyear.com/2016/11/14/how-to-triumph-like-a-girl-by-ada-limon/

      https://wordsfortheyear.com/2014/12/18/a-blessing-by-james-wright/

      https://wordsfortheyear.com/2015/11/17/escape-by-linda-whittenberg/

      https://wordsfortheyear.com/2016/06/11/after-a-rainstorm-by-robert-wrigley/

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