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Poems about grief (Part 2 of 3): Identity

Last year, I happened to read a number of poems that, to me, describe what grief feels like when one is going through it. They speak on other subjects, too, but I saved and organized them around the theme of grief. I’m not going to tell you which lines spoke to me. What matters is that these lines speak to you.

Kurt Rasmussen, “Burning Girl”
Lucille Clifton, “why some people be mad at me sometimes”
Jenny Johnson, “Vigil” In Full Velvet
Katie Ford, “The Ready Heart,” If You Have to Go
Jane Hirshfield “Sheep” Come, Thief
Jean Valentine, “The Door”
Catherine Barnett “Epistemology” Human Hours
Linda Gregg “God’s Places”
Joel Moskowitz “Too Many Things” Amethyst Review
Marya Layth, [I will not be your warhorse]
Chelsea Dingman “The Last Place” Thaw
Chelsea Dingman “Winter in the Rockies”
Jane Kenyon, “After the Hurricane,” Let Evening Come
Vievee Francis “A Flight of Swiftlets Made Their Way In” Forest Primeval
Yona Harvey “Meditation on Your Escape”
Yechuda Amichai, “At the beach,” trans. by Chana Bloch
Ellen Bass “The World Has Need of You”
Adeeba Shahid Talukder “Disorder”
Larry Levis, “Linnets”
Donika Kelly “A dead thing that, in dying, feedings the living”
Mary Szybist “In Tennessee I Found a Firefly”
Lucia Perillo “Say This”
Brandon Melendez “As Respite from Insomnia, The Author Writes An Elegy For What the Night Took” The Shallow Ends
Ariel Francisco “I know you love Manhattan but you should look up more often” The Shallow Ends
Lindsay Bernal “Heartbroken in Your Memoir”
James Richardson “164” By The Numbers
Kaite O’Reilly, “22” Atypical Plays for Atypical Actors
Ibeyi, “Transmission/Michaelion”
Yehuda Amichai “Poem Without An End”
Stephen Dunn, “The Reverse Side”
Jennifer Chang “The Winter’s Wife”
Nick Flynn “harbor (the conversion)”
Michael Dumanis “Nebraska”
Hieu Minh Nguyen “Uptown, Minneapolis, Minnesota”
Hanif Abdurraqib “How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This”
Helen McClory “An Apocalypse in Seven Stages”
Stanley Plumly “Say Summer/For My Mother”
Ilya Kaminsky “When Momma Galya First Protested” Deaf Republic
Jenn Givhan “In the Shower with Sunday After Watching Lost”
Catherine Barnett “Chorus” 
Laurie Sheck “And Water Lies Plainly”
Larry Levis “The Two Trees” The New Bread Loaf Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry
Hieu Minh Nguyen, “Punish,” Not Here
Sean Thomas Dougherty “Why Bother?”
Chase Berggrun Chapter XIX
Rickey Laurentis “You Are Not Christ”
Jericho Brown “Prayer of the Backhanded”
Fernanda Melchor “On a Sentence”
Bud Smith “Wedding Day”
Gwendolyn Brooks “Notes from the Childhood and the Girlhood,” Annie Allen
Hanif Abdurraqib “For the Dogs Who Barked at Me on the Sidewalks in Connecticut”
Czeslaw Milosz “At a Certain Age”
J. Jennifer Espinoza “One Day”
Ellen Hagan “What Do We Do–Now”
Donald Caswell “How It Works”
Nick Flynn “Killdeer”
Brenna Twohy, “I am not clinically crazy anymore,” Zig-Zag Girl


Novelist of matters surreal and magical. Studied philosophy and journalism. Worked in technology and finance. Knows about UX design and life coaching. Helps people write their books. Ask. Don't be shy. Author of TEN PAST NOON, BAD FIRE, PAINTING DRAGONS, and ENKIDU IS DEAD AND NOT DEAD.

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