Guest Poet Katie E. Wallace

He Was Always Leaving

he kept a suitcase
full of suicide
packed in the closet
near the front door

he would tantrum
and clutch the bag
tightly to him
this was a ritual

each night before bed
sometimes even before dinner
it would start

he would settle deep
into the silence
of television buzzing numbness
and busy city streets humming
it wasn't a laid back
real easy feeling
subterranean low
it was tight
stitched in knots
it was just like not breathing
and it couldn't calm down
it escalated
he would be frenzied
locked inside himself

mostly i didn't understand
i was eighteen
then nineteen and twenty
but i loved him
with heart arms spread wide open
i would coax him down
from however far he had climbed out
onto his minds ledge

this went on
was on going
night after night
there wouldn't always be tears
but there was always crying
he would say that it
would be better by Spring
no later than Summer, but
the years unfolded
with even the hottest of months
off set by his bi-
polar chill

i moved out in February
all by myself     i packed up my car
while he slept
(or pretended to)

it is April now
i hear that he is better
there is a new girl
and she
probably does help

i explain it as laziness
but there is probably
a fair amount of psychology
that would explain why i still haven't
unpacked my car

June, 1999

Katie E. Wallace's Questions:

Does the poem give you all of the information that you need?

  Are the connotations of tantrum {second stanza} a problem for the rest of the poem?

The Albany Poetry Workshop