Three Poems

by Anne-Marie Thompson

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Past Is

Yesterday we said, Let’s meet

at the school, at the park, at the gate of the

amphitheater. Let’s go 

to the buffet. Yesterday 

we were a little bit smaller.

Look at your hair, fingernails,

the wall in your closet. Your tooth

and some of our beliefs.

We believed in flawed laws

dividing distance by planes.

Yesterday the loud neighbor boy ran

into the yard to give hugs.

Yesterday remember it rained. 

Yesterday we said, Tomorrow.

Maybe tomorrow we can.



Dead Is

When all the work of living has been done,

or not. Sometimes it isn’t time. Sometimes

it’s only getting started. Then it’s gone.


Okay. Let’s start with plants. Flowers. Here’s one

that’s kinda wilty, see? Snap the stems

down low, right here. The pretty part is done.


When we walk down our street and count the run-

over worms. Or bird-pecked worms. Sun-melted worms.

They’re sort of there. But also sort of gone.


Daniel Tiger sings that song: “Grown-

Ups Always Come Back.” I think he means

it’s hard to say goodbye, but when you’re done


with kisses and a couple tears, it’s fun,

mostly, getting back to it. The games.

The songs. Maybe a snack. When someone’s gone,


it can feel scary. Or weird. Like there’s a ton

of heavy air just hanging in the space

where they should be. Keep going. You’re not done.

That’s it: Keep going and you’re never gone.

Rule Is

Lots of rules are good. How to ask 

a nice question. 

How many spaces to move on the board.


You’ll learn which to break.


Your father chose Judas 

as his confirmation name, dropped 

out of Skidmore after a week. 


I skipped sorority meetings for the symphony.


Nights without a moon, 

my aunt climbed over fences and cut

chains, lifting dogs away 


from their yards of violent neglect.


There’s a fine and final line between right 

and wrong. I wish

I could tell you what it is. I wish


I could say, Break a rule but break it 


loud and out in the open. But 

there is a time as well to sneak around 

in perfect darkness


to snap the thing in two.