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Grace Bauer is the author of Retreats & Recognitions, Beholding Eye, and The Women At The Well, as well as several chapbooks of poems, and co-editor of the anthology, Umpteen Ways of Looking At A Possum: Critical & Creative Responses to Everette Maddox. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


This is a story      mine     not mine

note     the use of     possessive

the word     story     the implication

what tale     entails

Who was it said:

“The king died     and then the queen died     is a statement;

the king died     and then the queen died     of grief     is a plot?”

Cause and     effect or

maybe      cause     and more     cause

just     because

Once upon     and then     and then

and so     they lived     and so


the complications     the twists

the so-called     arc      of this drama

And how can one be     upon     time

this story     not mine     and mine

I am not     the heroine     of this story

(note     the silent e     it makes all the difference)

I am     neither     pro or an/tagonist

not quite witness     not quite victim

still     somewhat     more than

>     minor     >     character

in this     major league     disaster

that is happening     that is     waiting     to happen

Is that what it means     to be upon

(as in     up on     as in     the latest news –

those      breaking     stories)

And how     did the king die?

Was he fighting     a major battle?     a losing cause?                                                                                                    


The world     of this story     turns on

a kind of denial     a silence

I am     breaking     into?     out of?         
Breaking in’s a crime

Breaking out? – it may be

Breaking through?

That’s always     seen as     triumph


Everyone was     turning on

No one     was telling

when things took     a bad turn

more than the     was silent

me     not me

mine     not mine

could be     my breakthrough

moment     role

But I am not a queen

good grief     no monarch

I am not     doing     time

I am     not     serving     this sentence

the story     ongoing     and     unraveling

anticipation     and     aftermath

adding up     two     plus, too

Who     or what     does the telling    serve

and what’s so new     about breaking

You can     mine     any story

for details     and     deletions

the queen’s grief     the absence

on which the tale turns –

did it make     a ruler     of her

and what     did she measure

who were her     subjects

Too many     complications

to keep track     of him     hiding his tracks

keeping up     with his own     personal joneses

the fixed focus     of need

a constant fix     that can’t be



the time     he serves     the sentences  

he says     I say     we all     have our say

the queen’s grief     a decree     of mourning

the duty of     subjects

each the subject of     their own

unraveling     stories

one’s need     to end all     but one need

another’s     need     to tell

what is     the objective     of the telling

beyond     the act of it     the upon     of time

assuaging of grief     revelation     of all

the fix     that cannot be     the craving

so elemental     one wants

to call it     pure

as in pure gold     as in

unadulterated     solid

but who knows     the cost

of telling     not telling

the truth     upon which

we stand     take     a stand?

What if     the queen’s grief

was mere sham     what if

she was all     good riddance

disguised     as sorrow     my own

questions     less about     regret

than guilt     which     is always

its own     kingdom

a craving     to tell







Try to remember a time

when you did not believe

in something more

or less miraculous:

the azure of dusk, the moons

on the nails on your hands,

the dirt beneath your feet

in which occasionally

sprouted a flower.

On the corner a man

in a brown suit and fedora

looks like he’s waiting

for someone. You consult

the calendar in your purse

to be sure it isn’t you.





Try to remember if it’s time

to go. Or time to arrive?

If the man is your guardian angel.

Or your nemesis? Your muse?

There are many things to believe

in this world. This is not one of them.

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