all these ex-husbands
of mine, instead of dogging me
like old tattoos, distorted

by wrinkles, faded & stretched by obscene
middle-age, humiliating me with my
unfortunate past lapses in taste.

Why do friends keep me posted:
the one who wouldn’t give me a baby
has adopted two; the one who lied & cheated

for years publishes screeds on Virtue
online; the one who told me I ceased to exist
the moment he walked out of the room

charges 500 an hour for Tarot therapy in the Village.
I walked out of that room seventeen
years ago: why does he still exist?

The one who didn’t want the kid
fights for custody, the millionaire
who repossessed my car pleads poverty.

Why does he have to call and poison
my exquisite hours? Why can’t he keep his lousy
karma to himself? Why doesn’t he drive

into a tree the way he threatened,
à la Jackson Pollock, only—please God—
with no innocent floozies in the car.

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BARBARA UNGAR’s new collection of poetry, Save Our Ship, was chosen by Mark Jarman for the Richard Snyder Memorial Prize and is forthcoming from Ashland Poetry Press in November 2019. Her last book, Immortal Medusa (The Word Works, 2015), won the Adirondack Center for Writing Poetry Award and was one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Indie Books of the year; their starred review begins, “Ungar’s new collection may not make her immortal, but it surely establishes her as a contemporary poet of the first rank.” Prior books include Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life, selected by Denise Duhamel for the Hilary Tham Collection (The Word Works, 2011); Thrift (Word Tech, 2005); and The Origin of the Milky Way (Gival Press, 2007), which won the Gival Prize, a silver Independent Publishers medal, and and several other awards. She has published in the Southern Indiana Review, Rattle, Salmagundi, Minnesota Review, cream city review, Literary Review, and many other journals. She has read widely, including at the Dodge Poetry Festival, Poets House, and Academy of American Poets. Her work-in-progress, EDGE, an acronymn for the Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered list, confronts the sixth extinction. www.barbaraungar.net

11 responses to “Why don’t they just drop dead,”

  1. zoe zolbrod says:

    Oooooo wicked.

  2. Barbara Ungar says:

    Thank you!

  3. Laura Bogart says:

    This gave me goosebumps. The balance between wry humor and fierce anger is really stunning.

  4. Barbara Ungar says:

    Wow, thanks, Laura. Or could I call you Bogie?

  5. The words spoke of the fine line one treads between memories that refuse to leave us and the events that make newer ones. Exceptional and mesmerizing.

  6. Mina Olen says:

    Too Bad!! Women like you give us respectable feminists a bad name. I am not even sure if this qualifies as poetry; it’s more like prose with lame metaphors.
    Q. You state, “the millionaire
    who repossessed my car pleads poverty.”
    How can someone repossess a car that belongs to someone else?

    Maybe all these me that you have married are sick of giving you handouts. Maybe you are the wretched, greedy one.

    I feel sorry for your child. His mother is clearly a raging lunatic.

    • dwoz says:

      look! hate male…er….mail. Barbara, you’ve now arrived, as you’re not TRULY a writer until someone is MOVED to go out in public and declare you a charlatan.

      but before I duck back out, may I ask Mina….what does feminism have to do with this?

  7. Vika Newman says:

    While I do not agree with many of Mina Olen’s comments, I do think one is accurate. Unfortunately, this is not poetry.

    • dwoz says:

      Of course it isn’t poetry!

      Poetry always has rhymes on the end of each line.

      That’s how you know it’s poetry, silly goose!


  8. Barbara Ungar says:

    And I thought I was being funny.

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