The Vase Broke Any Way

April 5, 2021, 7:19 p.m.

In the spirit of National Poetry Month, over the next few days Reads will be publishing five original poems, submitted by Stanford students and chosen by the Arts & Life editors. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do, and that you continue to read, write and celebrate poetry.

I took a vase to the store to return it,
and in the doorway it shattered
when it slipped from my hand.
Funny thing is, that’s why I bought it —
I wanted to smash it instead of writing a sonnet —
but neither went the way that I had planned.

As does nothing, I suppose.
I chose it to break, for my own image it shows.
I’ve neglected my poetry to practice my prose.
And now all I have are scattered reflections of the same tired man.

How many reflections do I need to see through?
The more I make, the more they dare me to do …
I tried to stop it. I hid the vase in the closet.
I clenched my fist and left my pen in my pocket.
But then came today and the vase broke anyway.

And that is all I can seem to say.
Not about why, nor about who.
With pen I play, my mind in two,
but pray I do I may lie true,
I may find newly some assent
in an earnest urn or an honest ode;
But amorphous amphorae and untransparent lament
are all that have as yet showed.

Any way I try, and I can’t write it —
but write I can, and I try anyway.
Anyway, any way, a-n-y-w-a-y.
Any way I break it down it breaks down anyway.

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