Most of my creative writing was lost in the Great Computer Crash of 2006, and I think this was for the best.

But today I found a file folder wedged between others marked things like “Toby’s Vet Docs” and “Paystubs” and “Andrew’s College Fund.”  It held a few papers from my poetry workshop days, mostly AmLit fliers and printed information about submitting to literary magazines.  In 2003, I sent a packet of three poems to The Formalist, a lit mag that used to published metrical poetry, and had one published — “Carving Fruit,” which I’ve posted here before as my last effort to write creatively.  I looked through the three additional poems I sent to the magazine and found all of them to be flawed and usually trite and a little humiliating.

There was one, however, that despite it’s flaws seems relevant now.  Last week, my grandmother passed away at the age of 92.  During his eulogy, my dad talked about his parents’ marriage.  My grandfather died about five years ago, and my grandmother was never quite the same afterward.  They had been married for — over sixty years, I think?  I remember, when he died, I hated the thought of my grandmother alone in the apartment that was once theirs instead of hers.  She never learned how to drive, and spent her days watching television or filling in the daily crossword puzzle.  I wrote this:


Four-letter word, crustacean: crab —
the blue-vein letters soft and caught
in crossword shells.  The day was drab
and grandpa’s car was missing, bought

by someone with smooth palms, full hair.
My grandma sensed the empty lot
through bolted doors.  She hated  bare
black asphalt, clenched her pen and fought

the crowding absence with the clues.
Six-letter name for husband lost.
Five-letter verb, to grieve.  To lose
remnants of mint and wax she tossed

four crabs into the pot to cook,
their thick sea smell erasing him.
She watched their puzzled pincers hook
and clatter on the stainless rim.


6 thoughts on “crossword

  1. That’s a really beautiful poem. I envy you for being able to express that kind of living grief so eloquently.

    Also, I love Hem, and that song’s just magical, isn’t it?

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother.

    I think I might have a couple of your Grossinger-era stories from that Creative Writing class at AU tucked away in some anonymous corner of my hard drive. I don’t think I threw anyone’s stories out. That is, if you even want to be reminded of that class.

    • I never replied to your comment, despite my best intentions!

      While I was home over the holidays I actually found a few of my old creative files. Most of them I would rather forget, but some of them aren’t too bad. I found some of my Grossinger stories, as well, complete with his comments. That class was kind of insane, if I remember correctly.

      I hope you’re doing well!

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