UNWILLING TO LAUGH ALONE
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The poems in Unwilling to Laugh Alone are a tribute to the richness and wonder of our relationships. The sweep of a life unfolds in these pages—from childhood, through marriage, and into middle age—and all the wisdom acquired along the way. There is enormous empathy in this collection and a brave honest voice that admits, “I find I lost nothing today/and everything hurts.”
— Marjory Wentworth
Anne Kaylor’s poetry collection threads around overcoming brokenness, both her own and that of loved ones. The childhood family is not a trouble-free zone but a “false sanctuary/from my terrors and tears.” In “Baking Bread,” the act of kneading helps a friend surmount the effects of chemotherapy. And yet “You stand again, find love again,/begin again.” In addition to a wide range of character portraits, several late pieces are humorous, including the sensuous “Foot Long.” The final result is “The Dance of Me”—“rising to that epiphany/of internal grace.”
— David Radavich
Reading Unwilling to Laugh Alone is like sitting at the kitchen table with a family member, sharing secrets, woes, and hopes. The turns of phrases, thoughts, and emotions within these poems are familiar without being expected. As the author writes in her poem “I Eat Magic”: “You know deep down/we’re all kin in sufferin’.” Indeed we are.
— Malaika King Albrecht
SAMPLE POEMS FROM Unwilling to Laugh Alone:
Just above my right ear—
where the trunk of this gnarled oak
branches out and my hammock ties off—
there’s a hollowed crook.
Filled with last night’s rain,
this rotting niche sprouts mushrooms,
gathers leaves, hosts a wily woodpecker
who shares its bath.
Notches carved into bark
mark my growth in youth,
but I regret these wounds
as age bends me, too.
I sway to the same wind
that pushes darkened limbs
and wonder if we’re kindred now,
each reaching for our last rest.
The oak turns to winter and, I fear,
the sleep from which it won’t rouse—
the crook is a thief silently stealing
my old friend’s time.
Bright Sky, Cole Night
~ For Charles Urrey, 1954–2014
His battered hands are bruised yet
never beaten. Kneading with need,
he molds honey-laced love, even as
his broken body grows too fragile
Yet nothing—not even hours
preparing the gear nor single-digit
degrees—surpasses his desire to stargaze
tonight as the clouds part to reveal
By motorized chair, his fingers navigate
him in this rural setting where clarity of sky
matches a crystal mind. He begs to be lifted,
to gaze at his dark heaven, but his frame
His cognizance is caged by tongue;
sagging, his view clings to earth.
But inside, his own unforgettable jazz
blares a timbre acclaiming life and he sheds
death’s tainting touch
for one more day, his Stetson
firmly in place as we break bread,
heedless of the odds.
Without gets such a bad rap. We torture
the poor word with connotations—to be
without anything is to miss out on something,
to lose an opportunity. But what about being
End is not much luckier. Though a solid word,
it’s not very pretty, easy to say but hard to do,
always telling us when something is over—
the end of a movie
or a good book
a bottle of wine
or the rest of life.
Yet happily ever afters come after
the end, and Jesus just wanted to end
our suffering. Funny how we attach
such meaning to so little, just two
small words make all our difference.
These words come together as if forced
by our gravity, drawn close by our need
to change the final chapter. But, with both,
we find we don’t have to finish anything—
not our broccoli
not the race
or last piece of pie
And certainly—not ever—our love.