Wednesday, November 29, 2017

the art of losing: MyPoPerDayMo

One Art | Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.


For good reason this is one of the poems we know best, often used as a model for the villanelle form, but this month I set it as the backdrop of MyPoPerDay project.  I'm going to practice being a loser this month and write (not in villanelles!) about losses small and large. It's not an area of mastery for me.

Nov. 29
That White Jacket, 1984-1987
definitely not me

Not until we were in the airport already--warm day, air conditioning--
did I realize I had left the essential layer
for cool East German summers
draped over the exercise bike
in my bedroom:
I lost it for real
in the NYC subway.
Somehow that hurt less.
At least maybe someone was using it.

Nov. 30
"Engagement" Bracelet, c. 1994-2014

I miss the heavy, quiet clank of your hollow links, your easy toggle
on and off, the way your sterling silver polished itself
against my wrist, the way you steadfastly balanced
the weight, on my other arm, of any watch
in my parade of big plastic Swatches.
I miss your daily reminder of our
not the same at all
weighty commitment to love.
I took you off to swim
with the family
and you dis-
in the

I am
not over
you; I don't
feel like myself
without you; no number
of trendy silver bangles can begin to
replace you. Who cries
over an old
I do.

Dec. 1
Uterus, 1964-2002

We had only just gotten to know each other, really.  Companionably
silent for years, you came into your own, did what you were
designed to do and did it well.  Then complications
arose, and I'm sorry that the rest of me wasn't
up to the task, sorry that you took the
blame on that night of blood
not my uterus, either
and panic.

It was 
strange to
wake up and
find you gone.
We had unfinished 
business,  a contract 
to dissolve, 
a farewell 
to feel. 

drafts (c) HM 12.17

The round-up on this first day of December is at A Year of Reading with Mary Lee, who is healing herself and the world with daily haiku this month.


  1. These are unbelievable. You have created a form here. What do you call it? It's like half of a parenthesis, carrying a special poem inside.

  2. So I felt as if you were taking us on a lovely ride, small poems that glimpse some smaller losses, stories we all have, then it was deeper, oh my. Heidi, the way you presented is breath-taking. Margaret is right, it looks and reads like a new form.

  3. Oh Heidi. These are amazing. Sometimes I feel as though losses are all there is.

  4. Beautiful and heartbreaking poems. Have you read What Have You Lost? It is a collection of poems about loss collected by Naomi Shihab Nye. Your poems belong with this collection, too.

    1. I know many of Naomi's books, but not this one. Thanks for alerting me.

  5. Oh Heidi. So may emotions here. What a wonderful topic for your month. It will be interesting to watch it evolve.

  6. WOW.
    I think the Poetry Seven are going to steal this idea from you, if you don't mind, and do one of our Friday projects on loss. This is... intensely felt and poignant and lovely.

  7. Oh, Heidi. Reading these and seeing your humor, your kindness, and your pain makes me extra extra happy that we got to catch up at NCTE. Friendships that we don't have time to really develop are losses too, I think. These are just astonishingly wonderful.

  8. Heidi,
    What a great project. You've inspired me with your great verses. Thanks.

  9. Stellar poems, Heidi. Great idea for a project!

  10. Sounds like you found a deep, fertile well to draw from–they seem to flow effortlessly too. I look forward to reading more of this form you have uncovered, these are touching, heartfelt, and powerful, especially "Uterus, 1964-2002" thanks Heidi!

  11. I agree with Linda B. I feel as though I've been on a journey. And, the beauty of losing has it's own map. Thank you for these thoughts, arranged in these ways. I am touched.

  12. Powerful and insightful poems, Heidi - you're definitely up for the challenge you've set for yourself.

  13. It's funny how December is a month for thinking about loss. Maybe it's the dwindling daylight. Or the relentless carols and consumer pressure. Or the end of the year coming. Somehow it seems appropriate, despite the cheeriness expected of the holiday. I hope it goes well for you.

  14. Your poem affected life?! Yes, you can share your lovely poem and its great "after story" with the world... Submit now on


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