Vox Populi

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Robert Wrigley: Self-Pity

Sometimes, in private—another room at least,

another building all the better—you can bask

in the balm and rage of it, you can as a dog does

roll in it like a dead fish on the grass, near a path

walked by mothers with baby strollers

and septuagenarians as healthy as they’ll ever be, like you.

Or else way back in the woods,

no one to hear your pusillanimous contumely,

calling the disease a treacherous fuck and crying.

None of it helps for long anyway, and hammering

a branch across a stump until the branch shatters

is to destiny what a fart is to the weather.

Probably somewhere not far off, there’s a critter,

a raven, say, looking on and wondering 

in bird-think lingo what-the-hell is that

thrash and catastrophe and what has it to do with me?

Although you’re through the worst of it now,

seated on the stump like the man from Rodin

and contemplating how for less than a minute there

the worst of it was also the best—

puking it up, shitting it out, the wretched vileness

of it, your momentary logging on

to the never-wired internet of why me,

a flash-glimpse of the collective unconscious of mortality

and the very thing that eats us all,

the gas of it, the fusion, its glistening piston

thoughtless death juice drive of it

into the dark, which is, after all, only dark, really,

and all the better, at some point, to sleep in.

(c) 2023 Robert Wrigley

Robert Wrigley’s many books include The True Account of Myself as a Bird (Penguin Poets, 2022). He serves as Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Idaho.

18 comments on “Robert Wrigley: Self-Pity

  1. James
    March 9, 2023

    Wonderful Poetry!


    • Vox Populi
      March 10, 2023

      It really is a profound and beautiful poem. It takes us into the embarrassing depths of fear and leads us out of it with love.


  2. Lex Runciman
    March 5, 2023

    Among many delicious lines, this one: “no one to hear your pusillanimous contumely”


  3. mollyfisk
    March 5, 2023

    Oh, thank god. ❤


    • Vox Populi
      March 5, 2023

      Thank God because someone else experiences these feelings?


  4. Barbara Huntington
    March 5, 2023

    Why is this author inside my head throwing out all the messiness I I thought I was hiding so successfully? “There needs to be order,” I whisper. I need to appear calm, composed, above rage, above self pity, ooom. Sit! Got this. I need to…. I need.. oh crap. I’m never gonna get that dead fish smell out of this sweatshirt.


  5. kpaulholmes
    March 5, 2023

    Excellent poem, as all of his are. And excellent advice too! I can’t even name my favorite line, because they are all my favorites.


  6. Rose Mary Boehm
    March 5, 2023

    A wonderful poem. So very true.


  7. rhass1
    March 5, 2023

    This poem is why I begin every day with Vox Populi. I believe and connect with every word of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      March 5, 2023

      Yes, Bob Wrigley is a great poet… one of the best we have.



  8. ssteph2013
    March 5, 2023

    Oh my. I can’t tell you the places this took me…. What a powerful piece…


    • Vox Populi
      March 5, 2023

      I agree. It is a brave, beautiful and kind of weirdly funny poem.



  9. Pamela Simpkins
    March 5, 2023



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