John Roedel, The Life of Our Days

An American Suicide

there’s a snake around our
waist and a thousand spiders
in our throats
we lie and say we’re happy
and then we go home to
write our notes

the darkness here is growing
and there’s not just one
thing to blame

the hopeless we feel
has become a constant
driving rain

I’ve sat with my share of demons
who whisper honey
in my ears

they speak of scarcity and
of sadness and how quickly
my end draws near

the horror of our time
is a ghoul inside
our hearts

a ghoul that is silently gnawing
on us until we
surrender and depart

in America we work our 40,
sign our leases and
act so very brave

while we cry ourselves
to sleep each night being seduced
by an early grave

suicide is an epidemic
that we refuse to
talk about

it’s been a back room secret
when it should have always been a
primal shout
this isolation
this desolation
is coming for us all

it’s creeping in like autumn’s first
kiss that torments leaves
until they fall

and now the rates are climbing
and darkness owns
the day

our loved are disappearing
into the mouth of
the deep dark gray

I wish that I could tell
you in words that you
would hear

that soon your storm will pass
the clouds will break and your skies
will become clear

but you have left this world
and all of us
and now my insides ache

I’m left here with unspoken words,
a familiar eulogy and a plate of
stale funeral cake

when we meet in heaven
just past the spiraling
universe above

I will do what I should
have done on Earth and tell you
that you are loved

I refuse to make normal
our lives of quiet

I will do my very very
best to tell you daily that
I care

I will not give in to the
monsters growling under
my bed

I will not let them offer
their monologues of how we’re all
better off dead

it’s time to act
to fight this horrible
curse of our times

because doing nothing
and staying silent is a
serious fucking crime

the day is here
to finally look suicide
in the face

and to let it know we
have dignity and worth
and that
we are all born of grace

in America death
has long had
its say

but not anymore
no sir
no ma’am
no how
no way

The Spell Of Shared Fingers

I can’t wait
for someone
to invent the
technology that
tells us when we
are holding hands with
somebody for the last time

the cruelest trick
of life is that it so
relentlessly temporary

I believe
that when we
hold hands we
are casting a spell

it’s the magic
of making the
fluidity of our
existence feel
briefly static

it’s the magic
of making the
fleeting present
feel like sticky taffy
caught on our tongue

when you
let me hold your

it feels like we are pouring
maple syrup on every clock
in this world

hold on,
don’t go,
let me explain

there is a
specific energy
that can only
come from
laced fingers

connection is everything
we came here for

togetherness is the
of our lifetime

wrap your hand in mine

feel the
sunlight bursting through the gaps
of our tangled digits

you are loved
you are safe
you are here
I have you
you have me

this is our story

an epic tale
of holding on
to each other
as long as we

sending our Morse code
love letters to each other
one quick hand squeeze at a time
as we walk into the dark forest

wait, keep listening

when I held
hands with you
on our
wedding day I
became a balloon
that you have tightly held on to
so I wouldn’t ever float away
in my despair

you tied me
around your ring
finger and kept
me from getting lost
up into the church rafters

you hold
on to me
so tightly

keeping me from popping
I’m not done,
let me finish

when I held hands with
my children when they
were young I became a
foot taller and grew a
lion’s mane

I held onto their
little hands so tightly

that I didn’t ever notice
that they had grown so large
that they no longer needed
me to hold them anymore

then they let go
and I shrunk
and my mane
fell on the floor

and my hands
keep reaching for their

even though
are miles away

I can still feel the
phantom pains
of their absence

my hands remain open
in case they ever
need them again

or for when I need them

that reminds me…

when I held hands
with my parents on
their deathbed journey’s
that were separated by
about 15 years

I could feel the piano music
of grace play silently
through our knotted

it was our final
desperate duet that we
played together
before the angels
came through
the walls

the room was quiet
their breathing was fading
time was running short

so I held on to
them as long as I could

hands in hands
fingers between fingers
until the room grew still
and their lights rose to
rejoin the stars

I think that the most
important moments
of my life have all
happened when I
am holding hands with

we didn’t come here
for cars

or for jobs
or for flush bank accounts
or for being right
or for winning wars

we came here to
hold hands

that’s it

time is relentless
let’s not waste
any more of it

blanket your hand
around mine
and let’s watch
the sunrise

pulse against pulse
thumping against the thin
skin that separates us

until our heartbeats madly
kiss each other through
the veins in our wrists

hold my hand
all night
by candlelight

until our twisted fingers
cast their shadows on the
wall like puppets who
tell the story of how our
love endured
the fickleness of this life

hold my hand
until we cast
a spell

that keeps
us frozen
together in the
warm magic of
this moment

a sanctuary
of fingers between fingers
and pulses against pulses

a sacred tethering
between two hands
that were always
meant to find
each other

Decanted By Her

sitting at the bar
with the thin stem
of a wine glass
cradled between
my fingers

I’ve been waiting
to hear her voice

I’ve been waiting
all day
waiting for the
liquid ruby
to speak to me

I consume her in slow sips
I empty her six times

I am halfway gone
when she finally shows
up in the dregs and seeds
at the bottom of my glass

she whispers
through her
cabernet lips
a question that
intoxicates me
more than her tannins
ever did

she asks
“when will you believe in miracles again?”

I press my nose to the
porch of the glass she bathes in
drawn in by the bouquet of her essence

The incense of ambrosia rises
in a magenta fog
making an altar out of the bartop
transforming the
whiskey bottles into a cloaked choir
turning my chair into a confessional
and me into a shaking child

“tomorrow,” I say
my lips still sweet with her

the glass between my fingers begins to hum
the melody to a song I remember being sung
long before I was born — when I was starlight
my scarlet lady of the vine

smiles with the full bodied smile
of an angel of earthy comforts
that is blended with equal parts of
debauchery and mercy
and softy offers
“baby, tomorrow is already here”

suddenly I believe in miracles again
and with that my confession is heard
and the choir begins to chant
and I fall into the glass

surrounded by her
decanted by her
enchanted by her

The Divinity of Puddles

The storm took everything from us.

It’s all gone. The stuff. The house. The money. The plans we made when we were twenty. The wine collection. The love notes you wrote me on hotel notebooks. The rose garden you always wanted. The wedding picture where it looked like you were a terrified child bride. The secrets we kept from each other. The cold stares I gave you when my heart grew numb. The mark in the wall where you threw a salad bowl at me. The promises I broke. The deep sighs you offered whenever I told you we couldn’t afford to buy something. The nights when we both fell asleep crying. The growing distance between us.

All of that is gone. The storm took it all.

The only thing left is a puddle that features the upside down reflection of our love that had been obscured by all of the stuff we buried ourselves in. If we stare at our reflection long enough we can see two of us holding hands in the trees. If we stare at our reflection long enough we can see the softness in our faces. If we stare at our reflection long enough we can remember who we once were for each other.

If we stare at our reflection long enough we
will fall into it
and right back into each other.

Sometimes storms only
take what isn’t needed anymore
and leaves only a chance to gaze
into the washed reflections of who
we were born to be

after a storm
rainbows are lovely
but puddles are divine

the storm took everything from us
everything but us

so, really, the storm took nothing

John Roedel is an improv comic who to everybody’s surprise (including his) started writing poetry. He has self-published two books in the past year: Hey God. Hey John: What Happens When God Writes Back and Any Given Someday: The Poetry Of What Comes Next.
John’s writing has been influenced by the likes of Rainer Rilke, Phillip Kay, Iain S. Thomas, and Mary Oliver.  He believes in the power of vulnerability and authentic storytelling in all forms — whether through essays, lyrics, or poetry.


2 thoughts on “John Roedel, The Life of Our Days

  1. I have been following Johns work for a number of months now. He does amazing prose, but it is his poetry I am attracted to. This is kind of a big deal for me because it’s the first time that a poem of any kind has touched me so profoundly. I call him a genius, but maybe it’s just that I was the perfect receptacle for his particular brand of genius. It’s truly like looking into a mirror and seeing myself looking back. I’m so glad his work is being wonderfully recognized.


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