Good Grief

Alicia Hoffman


said the cartoon character
in exasperation as I watched
Saturday morning tv slurping
cereal as a kid sitting Indian-Style
as they used to say, but don’t say
anymore; good grief, the phrase
funny the way phrases aren’t funny
when you really think about them, 
the way Indian-Style isn’t funny
the way grief is never good, 
the way it bites us unknowingly
like the millions of mosquitos
that bit my husband this weekend, 
camping in the Thousand Islands
where we took a boat to Hart Island, 
renamed Heart Island since
the millionaire built
a mansion for his wife
but she died before he did
complete it so it sat empty
for years like a sucker punch
hit the guts of the dormer
windows and cornices and
the ballroom’s parquet
floor never felt the pleasure
of dancer’s feet and the feet
of the deer sculptures chipped
and fell into a pile of rubble
because to love is to welcome
the good knowing all along
the grief definitely will not be, 
and even along the St. Lawrence
Seaway I see the history of heartache, 
the genocide of tribal lands, the
Onondaga gone and the harbor walk
sunk below the water’s shores
as the levels of Lake Ontario rise
higher and higher every year.



Originally from Pennsylvania, Alicia Hoffman now lives, writes and teaches in Rochester, New York. Author of 'Railroad Phoenix' (Aldrich Press, 2017), her poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including The Penn Review, Radar Poetry, Softblow, A-Minor Magazine, Redactions, Word Riot, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the Rainier Writing Workshop.

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