Losses

          how many the metaphors for those times
                              days of wine and roses
                             halcyon days of youth
                          salad days
                      snows of yesteryear
                  splendor in the grass glory in the flower

                 but no need to try to remember turns
                    of honeyed phrase (how bitter their after-taste)
                        when memories troop these days
                             a parade to confirm loss again and again
                               sometimes sharper than before
          how many times familiar phrases prick awareness
                                 reopen wounds echo ancient taunts
                               chime promises that never came true
                            photograph faces anew but in their youthful hue
                      all a roll call of those who have absented themselves from us
                           in short we are taught again as if we never learned years ago
                                how life schools us in losing but cannot reveal compensatory
                                      wisdom in how to prevent much less accept losses
                                        as though we did not mind all life conspires to show is
          how with last breath our favored phrases and memory itself comfort not at all


Carl Sennhenn served as the 14th Poet Laureate of Oklahoma. His fifth collection is Trespassing: Songs of Love, Coals of Kindness (Village Books, 2017). Semi-retired after sixty years in education, he currently teaches creative writing to seniors at Rose State College, and hosts the Second Sunday Poetry Series.