Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tell Me No

Tell Me No

Say no to me.
Do not give me

what I’ve asked you
for. Not a keepaway

game, but a final
answer. Say that nothing

will persuade you to
reconsider. You have given

this good thought, all
morning, all afternoon, you

have been shaping your
side of the script.

Do not say sorry,
even though you are.

What matters is the
no, not your sadness

because of mine, not
a caveat, not an

asterisk you fling to
me like a frisbee.

It is never going
to happen. Tell me

that. Let it out,
give me the bad

news and don’t prevent
me from receiving it.

This is never going
to happen, tell me

over the telephone if
it is easier for

you to not look
at me. Compose an

email and delete half
of it. Press send,

and delete it from
your sent folder. Type

no no no no
no no no no

and print it out.
Make three thousand copies,

cover my car with
them (it’s the gray

one, you’ll know it),
shingle my roof with

no so that I
can thank you for

stopping up the hole
that lets in rain.

Do not waver, darling.
It will always be

no from you, I
can live with this

word every morning. Your
no becomes the morning,

becomes the soil, the
fields, the trees and

gravity, my blood, my
little cells chirping no

and still doggy paddling.
Let me hear you

say no in every
language, with every inflection.

Use up each euphemism,
do not regret that

you must say this
thing to me, do

not explain, I know
what you might wish

for me. Delete unfortunately.
Delete difficult decision and

not meant to be.
Your no is what

I depend on. I
have stopped swallowing vitamins

since you began saying
no, my hair gets

longer faster. I have
come to crave it:

no, an evening primrose
opening to the night,

to the sound of
your voice and mine.


  1. Oh my word. Wow. The language and the various incarnations and variations on "no" that this has...

    But what really got me was how she receives "no." Not as no, but as something else, something to hoard and linger over, something that might really mean "yes" despite all protestations.

    I think this has a rawness that is unusual in your poems. It almost smears blood on the page. That is to say, I love it.

  2. I thought you might enjoy what the artist did with those rejections, and I see here you were inspired.

    So many ways to dress it but "no" is still "no". The dilemmas for the writer: waiting for the answer, not taking it personally, and moving on, always moving on.

  3. Yes sounds easier on the ears, but no makes a better poem.

    "What a thrill -- / My thumb instead of an onion."


  4. My favorite lines in your poem:

    ...not an
    asterisk you fling to
    me like a frisbee...

    Well done, Hannah.

  5. This is outstanding...I love all of it...I feel stronger now...I am glad to know that my hair can grow longer faster with this newly acquired strength...you rock and you know it...no one would dare say NO to you NOW! : )

  6. "No" is MY word this year. Next year it wi be also, with the addition of no explanation. Sound cold, feels warm and true--like you poem.

  7. No. Means No. But so what? It can only make you stronger. You crave for it. Whosoever says "no" to this poem will never know how to say "Yes" to all one's possibilities. This is a big YES, H! Bravo.

  8. The pace--and space--pulled nicely here.

  9. i am catching up on my reading. and i had to pause and say -- LOVE this one!!


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