Ode to An 8-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder, Sort of

“I am impressed that we both keep shreds of each other’s memories.
Why do we feel a need to hang on to these things? Still visit them?”


Line by line, page by page,
left shredded in a 2-ply bag

these are the words that broke me
{ TOOLS : Word Count : 40,000 }

I won’t tell you how or why exactly,
you know the power words wield:

……..You are amazing. You’re a liar.
……..I can’t stand you. I Love You. Good bye.

But those are the Lifetime Channel words,
the obvious Hallmark clichés,

and we didn’t write any of those.
Our destruction was more subtle —

intended or unintended or just the kind
born from a history of small betrayals.

They tell you now that trauma wraps itself around human cells,
creates webs that bind us so we can’t move forward.

In this verse, I cast those webs myself with words —
and bound myself to a story long since passed,

with a keyboard melody of second chances
and his favorite It’s karma, kismet refrain.

Bound my dreams, too, in a familiar sway
of hope and mistrust, hope and mistrust…

but you can’t dance with bound feet
and you can’t love with a bound heart

so sooner or later — even much much later —
you have to let go, you just have to

find a way to change the words,
change the story, create a new ending —

like the artist who hand makes paper,
beats into pulp what gets left behind,

makes clear, blank surfaces born from shreds
onto which I can write the new story:

a decoupage of unexpected clichés and odd refrains,
of mea culpla and (yes) karma and HOLY COW!

Poem and Photo ©2019, Jen Payne. Watch for Jen’s new book, WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE, coming in 2020, from Three Chairs Publishing.

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