The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words



Men kept smiling at you today, but you felt like a disaster. You were an influenza epidemic, you were Hurricane Katrina, you were a four-car pileup, and there they were, these men, smiling.


Dear Insecurities,

We have company. We have found a friend. It’s okay to step out of the shadows, talk to the guy at the bar, say our name loud and clear, and be proud that we no longer must stay prone, stuck to the floor, or wriggling a door handle, and wondering if we’ll ever be able to move toward the light again, or get out of the rain, or stop just merely staring at the front of the house – because god forbid we move toward other living, breathing human beings.


The Scared and Emotionally Scarred

Seriously though, Delphine Bedient has written a pretty straight forward, yet oddly beautiful, ode to being insecure in her Two Plum Press chapbook, Down and Out on a Yacht. Her narrator’s story of a love, almost abusively unrequited, is broken up by moments of introverted humor – laughing with an accordion playing troop of homeless men, or finding the joy in a urine soaked bus with working air conditioning – while she stands staring at the front door of the man she loves, but can never actually have, or leaving a lover at the bed, or dance floor, or bar stool, but never really leaving with a name, an answer, or the strength to do anything about any of it.

We do get brief moments of hope:


Lay in bed and think. If you were to look over at the clock it would read twelve-thirty. The sun has been up for hours. You do not feel left out.

Trace, slowly, the oblique lines of your ribs. Follow them up to your armpit. Swoop down with them towards your belly. Lay there, amazed at such an intricacy. The ribcage.

The room is warm and you feel sleepy, ready, even now, to pretend that this day never existed.

The phone breaks the silence with its unmelodious ring. You remain still in the bed, as
if the phone were a predator to be outsmarted. If you don’t move, it won’t know you are here. If you don’t move, it will stop ringing. And eventually it does. And in the following silence you begin, finally, to stretch your feet out towards the floor. The floor which had seemed, all morning, so very far away.

But mostly, we get feelings that many of us have dealt with, but have never really been able to address as clearly as Delphine has done in Down and Out on a Yacht. It’s a nice reminder that we all must put one foot in front of the other, and even then, we might just trip and fall.

If you live in the Portland, Oregon area, you can grab your copy of Delphine Bedient’s Down and Out on a Yacht, at its release party on Thursday, June 19th at theIndependent Publishing Resource Center. Or, after that date via Two Plum Press. 

About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.


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