Gains & Losses
Status Report

let there be no moans in this vocabulary
with no words to compensate
let all thrusts of unhappiness go too
(the days have been somber already
we've had pain's dialects
stuck to our tongues)
better simply be quiet
and not move our mouths
better a glass of milk be no more than a glass
heaps of silence
in the reaching out of hands
let air stay stiff and pleated
as we breathe through our noses
remembering how we used to race boats
heave water while grunting hard
(those sounds were proof we were living
we carried noises
high up in our throats
now our wives have pearls
but we've almost billowed over
arms locked with tourniquets of mesh)
let us stay attentive to our green gowns
to the lunges
of the nursing staff
who fasten and unfasten clothing
tell us stories
with the sad endings removed
mornings let their eyes
look us over blackly
asking when we will lift our legs
let no one answer let
the old night dogs leave us
let the young ones the pretty ones stay


Photo Credit: US Geological Survey EROS Image Gallery

Copyright 2009,  Rebecca Givens Rolland

Rebecca Givens Rolland's poems have previously appeared in the Gettysburg ReviewAmerican Letters & CommentarySoutheast ReviewMeridian, and Born Magazine.  Currently, she lives in Boston, teaches at Grub Street, and works as a speech-language pathologist. You may find more information about her and her work at

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