A walk helps a little, a pause

where I am moving

and other things stay the same,

or have less distinguishing detail.


The sky in this mood is more

supple. Not quality of life,

but quality of suffering.

Just to say “I suffer” helps.


A dog rubs its heavy black body

against my thigh,

thrusts its head between my legs.

I hate this automatic shame.

I hate when dogs look like people.


A woman calls to the dog

and apologizes.

I have no name to call back.





I could know him, and like him,

without understanding,

like liner notes to a jazz album.


But liking doesn’t lead to love.

You switch to a different axis.


A self-indulgent misery

is best, a cathartic performance

I perform myself.


I read that happy people have

an inaccurate sense of time. The descent

as slow falling. The dead

don’t get any more dead.


When remembering him,

I’m never lonely.


Elisa Gabbert is the author of The Self Unstable and The French Exit. Her next book, L'Heure Bleue, or The Judy Poems, will be out next year from Black Ocean. 

These poems originally appeared in Phoebe.

Elisa Gabbert is wearing the mactaggart weighted brass with turquoise patina u-lock on mixed vintage brass chain 

Paige TaggartComment