Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: The Nots

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Not many poets would confess to the personal themes they?ve avoided in their work, or even quite know what they are. Yet in this brave poem which concludes his new collection, Death of a Ventriloquist, Gibson Fay-LeBlanc of Portland both reveals those themes to us and challenges himself with them.

The Nots by Gibson Fay-LeBlanc

                    A writer is accountable also for what
                he chooses not to write. ?Edmond Jabes
I haven?t described the flight path of my shouts
at two toddlers in a car. I?ve said little
of my father, a dash. I?ve not been head
in hands, unable to stop my baby?s wails.
That wasn?t me, slack-jawed before a screen,
vacant as neon, forgetting my own name.
Not once have I forgotten my son
on his birthday or how to touch my wife.
That was someone else who tightened 
your heart with a skate key. Confessed not
being the cherry atop a Manhattan,
nor a tiny umbrella crinkling over a daiquiri.
No tantrums on or off the page.
I told none of the stories I wished to.
They turned out to be tangles of nerve fibers
unjoined, two roads without a bridge between.
I?ve not spread my arms wide as they would
and said, Do with me what you will.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2012 Gibson Fay-LeBlanc. Reprinted from Death of a Ventriloquist, University of North Texas Press, by permission of Gibson Fay-LeBlanc. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.