David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
It's What We Do

June 10, 2018

So, for about a week I have been thinking about the events that form the middle part of this poem.  The memories seem to come back in the news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, although I was more concerned about drunk driving than suicide in the case of this friend.  Part of it also comes from the inevitable way we try to connect (and fail to, in some cases) with people in our lives.  In the end we all make choices about how much we support each other. (And, believe me, I don't hold myself up as the exemplar for this selfless behavior.  Past blogs show my lamenting lost opportunities: I Can't Help You Anymore; Of Hearts and Spines; Cardio Cant.)

All this crystallized for me this morning when reading a biography of Josef Stalin and the night of his wife's suicide.

It's What We Do

When Stalin's wife left the party,

Someone had to follow her out.

The Maurer bullet still shattered

And increased the terror to come,

But was the outcome in some doubt?


A past night in some farmer's field,

A less significant soirée

(Then again who can ever say?),

Smoke, drink, escape into intrigue,

And the pain that creeps in anyway.

She slunk away from the fire's glow,

Something'd been said that struck too deep.

I don't remember the harsh words,

Only the headlights coming on,

And I couldn't just let her go.

Didn't get far in her disarray,

Time to take the passenger seat,

And slow down her frantic thinking,

Shut down the ignition, lean back,

And listen to her mournful conceit.

Can't say exactly what was said,

Likely secrets, lyrics, and lies.

Somewhere in her cigarette smoke,

She agreed to turn the car 'round,

And saved us all painful goodbyes.


Last night I watched a friend perform,

Even got out on the dance floor.

Self-conscious, I still spun awkward.

It's our little acts that inform

What we are all connected for.