Greg McBride: “Heart Attack”


It begins with the one you hold closest,

the one on whom you have staked your one life,

just the smallest letting go, the way words

lift off a page in the fog of dim light,

till the terrible gentleness gives way,

and it’s more like the trembling Dear John

from your first great love when at war,

when 23, when the long days slowed

in leaden sorrow, or worse, like your body-

gone-wobbly-with-age ripped from the self

you’ve become, with your one, and you are pierced

hot with the ache of unquiet sleep,

and your heart beats the hurt harder, faster,

then softer, slower, till you know

it’s near empty of beats, the way even

the greatest love story blurs to its final words.

Greg McBride is the author of Porthole (Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry, Briery Creek Press, 2012) and Back of the Envelope (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2009). His work appears in Bellevue, Boulevard, Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review Online, River Styx, Salmagundi, and Southern Poetry Review. McBride’s awards include the Boulevard Emerging Poet prize and Maryland grants in poetry. He is a Vietnam veteran and founding editor of the Innisfree Poetry Journal.

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