Grief – a series

0. Death
My Choctaw grandpa died
one cold January morn,
surrounded by his son,
his family,
and his wife.

1. Isolation
In a nursing home,
She had left him,
had overcome her grief –
moved on –
Long before we did.

2. Anger
Less than a year,
she remarried at the VFW;
he reminded her of Grandpa,
she said.
We did not share her belief.

3. Bargaining
She married a Mexican;
He moved into her house,
cooked us tamales to earn our trust.
We relented,
but only for her sake.

4. Depression
It would not last;
The inheritance dwindled
She married a conman,
Dad said;
But no words got through.

5. Acceptance
She was convinced she needed him.
That we were just jealous,
So, we left her with him,
disowned her,
and never saw her again.

Let’s be super honest here. It’s obvious, I’m not a poet. This poem, a series, is part of the June poetry slam over at YeahWrite. The month is over, but still, I encourage any and all criticism. (Hint: I know it’s not good) (Discussion points: is it clear that we were racist? That we were in the wrong here? That it’s written from the perspective of an unreliable narrator?)

4 thoughts on “Grief – a series

  1. I have more thoughts (among which is that you absolutely have the seeds of good poetry) but to address the discussion point–it’s clear that there’s racism involved but it’s not separated or confronted in a way that distances the author-now from the person-who-was. Tweaking the first two lines of the “acceptance” stanza might deal with that, as well as the “but no words got through” line. Try this on for size:
    He reminded her of Grandpa
    she said again.
    So we left her with him,
    disowned her,
    and never saw her again.


    1. Thanks, Rowan! I can’t believe I fell for the trap again of expecting the reader to know the person I am now, which is a dangerous pitfall to my nonfiction writing. I love what you’ve suggested and am kicking myself for not writing it that way. Haha


  2. Coming here to say something similar. I think adding in the narrator’s point of view is just a matter of picking one or two words that would point the reader that way. To make this more of a poem, you may want to employ more literary devices. I think hyperbole would work well to show the reader who were the rational people in this situation. A good surprising metaphor to describe the couple might paint their relationship in a way that would indicate that they were actually in love.


  3. I like the stages of grief used as section titles. To answer your questions, I did not get the sense that the narrator was unreliable or racist… maybe if you’d said “a brown Mexican” or “a dirty Mexican” the racist vibe would be more overt. I got the sense that the narrator and family rejected the new man because no one could compare with Grandpa, but still, at the end I was surprised that they went as far as to disown her, especially since the section is titled Acceptance (and maybe that contrast was a deliberate choice).


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