Photo provided by Michael MeyerhoferMichael Meyerhofer’s most recent book of poetry is What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, by Split Lip Press. He is also the author of a fantasy trilogy, published by Red Adept Publishing, and serves as the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review. For more information and at least one embarrassing childhood photo, visit http://www.troublewithhammers.com.


Michael Meyerhofer talks imagery and line breaks in “Dedication.”



By Michael Meyerhofer

In our house, not once did we hear
someone say you’re welcome
in answer to thanks. Instead—“it’s all right,”
backhanded reminder of the sacrifice
this or that Dollar Store trinket
cost folks well below the poverty line.
This is a hard habit to break.
“Don’t worry, it’s fine” when you thank me
for helping you move furniture
or coming to your reading,
your wedding, your beloved’s funeral.
“Oh, it’s all right” to students
when they thank me for margin comments,
for letting them turn in assignments
half a semester late. “It’s all right”—
the door held open a few seconds longer
for the jock on crutches,
for the blue-eyed girl breathing
into the straw fixed to her wheelchair.
I want to thank the moon for tilting
in time to highlight the rain
spilling off a parked windshield,
my body for keeping itself free
so far from cancer, diabetes, suicide.
I want to thank my fear of death
for melting whenever a beautiful woman
bends to drink from a fountain.
I want to thank the crows for mating
on any windowsill but mine.
And their answer, rising in chorus
with each day’s rusty sunset:
It’s all right. It’s all right. It’s all right.


[“Dedication” was originally published by Rattle, #33 Summer 2010.]


Writing Prompt: Write a poem about a ritual your family has.

Definition of Terms:

Imagery happens when you use figurative language (like adjectives, adverbs, metaphors, allusions, etc.) to describe something to readers. They can picture what it is you are talking about because you’ve given them something concrete to imagine.

Line breaks are created when a poet ends the line before the right margin of the page, making a deliberate decision about when the reader must stop and move to the next line. You will find that some poets choose to write in prose format (creating a prose poem) in which lines are not broken, but run the length of the left/right margins.


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