Thursday, November 26, 2015

To Go

To Go

There were no candles
at our table, angel child,
for we were in a place where
no fire would burn, no light shine
except the sickly phosphorescence
of the unquiet mind.

The love I talked
came out in tears.
The anger in your eyes
spit out my pointless words.

After you walked out
and left me burning there
the waiter brought the check
and took my plastic coin
in the profound silence of
the servant's protective tact;

I stumbled in a mist
of dread upheld, too slow
from sour cream and salt
on the still-full glass,

but remembering to
fumble up at the last
the greasy bag of
leftover hate to go.

~March 2015, 
revised November for


Images: Greasy Takeout Bag, author unknown, via google.Manipulated.
The Pink Candle, 1910, by Henri Rousseau, public domain via


  1. That first stanza illustrates--in miniature--one of the things i love about your writing. You wrote "where no fire would burn, no light shine", and with that deft phrasing, you conjure a whole suffocating airlessness, where even the light is created by decay.

    I also like the universal setting with the extraordinary---even hallucinatory--details. Everyone has gone out for dinner or drinks, and so you've taken the mundane and fused it with nightmare and heartbreak and the result is this fine dark poem. When the waiter hurrying silently off with the credit card is all the protection there is, one is pretty exposed, and it's chilling. Then, of course, the final bit about the doggie bag is suitable for Cerberus. Thanks so much for taking the time to post for my challenge, Joy.

  2. Wonderfully written picture of dread.

  3. The dread of Holidays alone is a perfect topic.. an empty restaurant, with glasses still full is like the perfect void... as usual you bring this in layers so a second reading reveals other details...

  4. I stumbled in a mist
    of dread upheld

    The dark side of being alone, of being oneself tending to oneself. In the course of life's cycle such an episode is something dreaded. Being alone for whatever reasons is a sad affair. Great take on the prompt Joy!


  5. I agree with Fireblossom. Making something extraordinary out of eating out. It brought to mind that old saw about breaking up with someone in a public place to keep outbreaks of outrage silenced! Leftover hate to go, indeed! Well done...again!

  6. This cobbled-together reunion in a greasy spoon to break the old bitter bread is what makes Thanksgiving so ... special. Everything that's hot and not in family, in love, in the inverted communion. (No wonder I got so thirsty trying to play nice.) The past tensing of the poem places it in the annals of a hell, to remember differently as the heart seasons as it does. The pairing of the brimming glass (sour cream and salt, rich) and the greasy bag of leftover hate is raw perfection.

  7. Hey Joy--this is a particularly wonderful and powerful one, I think . (BTW I should press the like button for all I guess, though it seems a bit silly in some ways.) Many great lines-- the sickly phosphorescence of the unquiet mind (which I kept reading as "sticky" by the way--and also liked), the love I talked that came out in tears is a particular favorite, -and that spat back words which describes interchanges will all know (and grieve, in a way), the wonderfully human touches of the waiter and the sour cream. And though one tends to focus on the hate to go, I think leftover may be an equally operative word. I've written something for this prompt but don't know whether can get up. Great job. k.

  8. Yes, what they al said. I'm crap at comments, but Ioved this piece.

  9. The bit about "the servant's protective tact" is so, well, tactile. :) I mean, that detail sets this scene so perfectly, and the server WOULD behave with protective tact in such a situation. Which might be comforting, or not. Really love this, Joy.

  10. Ouch. I can never understand someone who would choose a public setting in which to annihilate someone. I loved the "servant's protective tact" - you captured that so well, I can see him. A fantastic write. I, too, loved the doggy bag. A brilliant touch.

  11. "the love I talkes came out in tears" how poignanly expressed. this is beautiful in so mant ways.

  12. This leaves you feeling greasy, full, and icky. Hard to call that a compliment, but I truly mean it as such.

  13. 'dread upheld': the very worst kind.

    'fumble up' make me think of regurgitation.

    acid, here, poured with precision... ~

  14. The pain of rejection is portrayed so vividly in your poem. The details create even a stronger tension in the reader! Wonderful poetry!

  15. Nothing is like a dinner gone awry by a stampede of pain. I've sat at that dinner table. Amazing piece!


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats