“Op-Ed for the Sad Sack Review …” by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz


In a fit of gloom, I googled the word failure,
just to see if my name would come up. Instead,
Google told me I misspelled the word failure.

Recounting this makes me feel like I’m starting
a very weepy poem, or a very dull suicide note.
Never begin a wedding toast with the dictionary

definition of marriage, and never begin a suicide
note by saying you googled the word failure.
These days, the number one thing preventing me

from killing myself is likely the idea of people
learning of my suicide via Facebook status updates.
There’s no dignity in that eulogy, its collections

of sad face emoticons, studded with apostrophe tears.
This is a dumb reason to keep living, but it is a reason.
I’m sure all you other sad sacks have your reasons too.

So let’s all cling to them. Let’s all agree that living
for a dumb reason is better than killing yourself
for a dumb reason. Let’s feed tears to the dragons

of misery, but let’s never crawl into their mouths.
Let’s write terrible poetry, dress like late-era Rothkos,
wear out the relentless hate machines of our brains,

but let’s never break. Let’s just keeping living. We can
do this. Trust me. Yours Sincerely, Me, A Poet Who
Doesn’t Even Know How to Spell the Word Failure.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010


Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz: “‘Op-Ed For the Sad Sack Review…’ was inspired, as the full title suggests, by a series of suicides that hit our community in 2008 and 2009. On the Best American Poetry blog, poet Jennifer Michael Hecht pointed out that ‘[o]ne of the best predictors of suicide is knowing a suicide,’ postulating that ‘every suicide is also a delayed homicide.’ At the time, I was feeling rather low, having experienced an epic number of career-stopping rejections without any signs of relief on the horizon. But Hecht’s essay reminded me I was part of a larger community, one that has never been guaranteed the easiest road in life, but is nonetheless beautiful and filled with people absolutely worthy of good and long lives. And if Hecht is right, the best way that we can prevent the poets and writers we love from killing themselves, is to make the promise to ourselves to keep living. And hence, my ‘Op-Ed’: a loving shout into, and hopefully out of, that void.” (web)

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