W. D. Ehrhart  

Cliches Become Cliches Because They're True

for Ben in Friends Hospital
    You have to understand the way things are:
fire lives in this man's dreams, the way it
roils across the land like water churning,
the way it scours flesh from living bones.

That one's fine and delicate as lace
my grandmother used to make on Sunday
afternoons when she was young and people
stayed at home on Sunday afternoons.

This one's got a wife and kids afraid
they'll let him out again too soon and he'll
come home a nightmare with the family name
and nothing else familiar but their fear.

The woman by the window slashed her wrists.
And that one near the door has got a child
she tried ten years to bear and now can't bear
to hear or see or even think about.

God only knows what breaks inside the brain,
or why. You have to understand the way
things are: there's only circumstance, and chance,
and there but for the grace of God go I.
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    Copyright © 1999 by W. D. Ehrhart
Beautiful Wreckage, Adastra Press, 1999
This poem is currently published in Beautiful Wreckage, New & Selected Poems, Adastra Press, 1999
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