The Stages of Grief

I am excited to announce that four poems of mine, collectively titled “The Stages of Grief in Four Parts”, have recently been published in Taft College’s literary journal, A Sharp Piece of Awesome. I was invited to read at the release party Saturday—my first ever reading—and it was awesome!

I am in love with this cover.

A little history on these poems. Each one was written probably a year after the preceding one, the first one written the year my father died, 2011. It was only a couple years ago that I realized they somewhat aligned with the actual stages of grief: numbness, anger, depression, and acceptance. After realizing this, I decided they worked better as a unit and also served the memory of my father better together. That A Sharp Piece of Awesome has taken them as a whole means more than I could ever express. And, that my first reading could be of these poems is an honor I will always carry.

I have, below, a video of me reading the first two poems, “Cycles” and “From Regret”.

There are a number of well-written poems, stories, and vignettes in this collection that I had the joy of hearing at the release party, and I can’t wait to dig in! Currently, I do not think there is anywhere to purchase the journal online, but if it pops up anywhere, I will be sure to post a link.

For now, here are the two poems I read.


The stairs leading up to my home
shrink and swell with the seasons that pass,
creaking hesitance at wielding another load.

Father, flickering like a fluorescent about to die,
insisting I undertake the rite of my commencement.
Then gone—toxins corroding his ‘goodbye’.

Promises to take me and my sisters hunting
(he’d always wanted boys)
hanging like banners without wind in the open air.

Studying by lantern light,
sleeping in a cold bath
in his desert town,
he said it was for us:
his dogged pursuit of success
in a powerless house.

I hold his death close now,
like a handful of marbles,
afraid they’ll scatter
like his once cinched

fifty-seven years.
There is nothing left to immortalize
but what’s in me that was once his;
this is it


From Regret

It started with Hep C,
but right before
esophageal varices,
cancer on the already failing liver;
so from regret we are delivered.

No need to announce it
or advertise.
I’ll keep on living
the same old life.

No, I don’t feel bad for
smoking this cigarette
or having this drink.
Ignoring consequence
becomes a skill after so long.

I eat. I drink. I copulate. I sleep.
Do I stop one life to mourn the loss of another?
Do I get a tattoo that says ‘Dad,
R.I.P. one-one-eleven, Happy fucking New Year’?

No. I’d rather celebrate
his triumphs or explore his vices
as I enjoy this beer.

But not remembering the sound of his voice
in irritation or jest,
how he looked,
how he smelled after a shave or a cigarette,
therein lies the fear.


13 thoughts on “The Stages of Grief”

  1. Oh my gosh! Chills!!! Thank you so much for recording your reading so I could “be there.” You did SUCH a good job! You have a lovely reading voice and read like a pro. (Not that I’m surprised.) I have to admit, I clapped at the end. Here, in my office, in front of my computer. 🙂 Congratulations, Ashley, on the reading, the publication, and the poems themselves. You’re awesome.

  2. Congrats Ash. Your poems were wonderful, yet sad, as they should be. I know all about that grieving process. It’s why many of us write. 🙂

  3. I’m back again. I see I never missed most of these the first time. You’re reminding me to write poetry again, it’s been awhile. I have many I’ve written on loss and grief. In fact, I plan on writing a book on grief in a year or so. After my new book comes out in September, I need a bookwriting break. 🙂

    1. I’m so happy you’re inclined to get back into poetry. It has truly helped with the loss of my father among other things. Book writing breaks are an absolute necessity! Brush up your bard skills, D.G.!

      1. You’re so right. Although my mood for creating poetry mostly strikes in more melancholy times. Most of my poems were written about people in my life who had passed. Maybe this has something to do about why I write memoir. 🙂

  4. Pingback: 2016 in Review |


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