So Much More Mournful than Before

This morning, remembering the end

of an unpleasant dream, it seemed important

to think about Edgar Allan Poe.

Was he really afraid of being buried alive?

Or had he figured out exactly

how nervous he could make us?


He was always burying something

that wouldn’t stay buried, or walling up

what he’d have to face when that wall

got torn down.  But maybe Poe


was only a rhyme at the edge of my dream,

the way one thing connects to another

until it floats away: rows of beans,

flowers of evil.  Now it’s evening

and I’m listening to Joe Lovano playing

a song called “I Have the Room Above Her,”


which feels sweet enough until the title

makes me think of Roderick Usher listening

to his sister waking up in the tomb.

Oh, it was all preventable, everything they did,


but it felt inevitable, which is how

peoples’ lives unfold in a well-made story.

We see what they don’t, and sometimes

we think of ourselves.

What should I be afraid of?


Do I want to know?  Perhaps that dream

was trying to keep the answer hidden, and now

it’s gone, so I can’t explain why I thought of Poe

and all his extravagant disguises,

or why, as the song ends, Lovano sounds

so much more mournful than before.



Lawrence Raab’s collection of poems, What We Don’t Know About Each Other, won the National Poetry Series and was a Finalist for the 1993 National Book Award. Recent books include The Probable World, Visible Signs: New & Selected Poems, and The History of Forgetting. His forthcoming collection is titled Or So It Seemed To Me Then

Issue #35 May 2014
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