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Poems about grief (Part 3 of 3): What happens next

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.

Mary Oliver “In Blackwater Woods”
Sandra Lim “The Vanishing World” The Wilderness
Aracelis Girmay “Elegy”
Diane Seuss “Self-Portrait with the Ashes of my Baby Blanket” Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl
Ocean Vuong “Notebook Fragments” Night Sky with Exit Wounds
Katie Ford “Psalm 40” If You Have to Go
Nomi Stone Waiting for Happiness”
Jenny George “Mnemonic”
Timothy Donnelly “Explanation of an Oriole” The Cloud Corporation
Muriel Rukeyser “Poem White Page White Page Poem”
Ingrid de Kok, “Transfer” Transfer, Reprinted in Poets & Writers Magazine, Sept/Oct 1998
Cortney Lamar Charleston, “Turn the River”
Euripides Orestes (translated by Anne Carson)
Lawrence Raab “Last Day on Earth”
Ross Gay “Ending the Estrangement”
Jericho Brown “Crossing”
Mary Jo Bang “You Were You Are Elegy” Elegy
Rainer Maria Rilke “Archaic Torso of Apollo”
Camille Rankine “Still Life with House Finch” Incorrect Merciful Impulses
Andres Cerpa “Letter” Bicycle in a Ransacked City: An Elegy
Kathryn Starbuck “A Gift”
Jorie Graham “The Way Things Work”
Joy Harjo “I Give You Back”
Erin Adair-Hodges “Once I Was a Thimble But Now I Am a Bell” Let’s All Die Happy
Cameron Awkward-Rich “Cento Between the Ending and the End”
Jay Hopler “Like the Stare of Some Glass-Eyed God”
Seamus Heaney “Scaffolding”
Mary Karr “Wisdom: The Voice of God”


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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