The years flare up and are gone: “Sometimes it happens” by Brian Patten

I’ve been a terrible slacker about National Poetry Month; I did have grand plans to post more than one post that was poetry-related this month, but life got in the way, as it does. Darn you, life, being in the way of poetry! I would think that would be illegal. Shouldn’t that be illegal?

I can assure you, however, that I have been celebrating in my own way. I have been writing a lot of poetry (which I cannot show you, because I am submitting it for publication, so it has to stay off the interwebs, otherwise it’s previously published, and no one likes that, do they? I promise I’ll tell you if anything gets accepted, so you can read it in various places and celebrate with me. And won’t that be fun? Sure it will!)

I have also been reading a lot of poetry, but I can’t say that’s something I just do for poetry month. That’s something I do year-round. I try to read a new-to-me poem at least once a day, if not more often. And it’s not even “try to read” as much as I just DO read them, because I follow a lot of poetry blogs and magazines and what-have-you, and love to fill my eyeholes with poetry. Poets do this, you see.

I did want to post something for National Poetry Month, however, because well, come on, people! National Poetry Month! And when I saw that Serena at Savvy Verse and Wit was having a National Poetry Month Tour, I bugged her until she let me be a part of it. And that is how you do it! Stand outside someone’s house with a boom box blasting “In Your Eyes” until they relent!*

*Please do not do this. You will be arrested. Unless you are a 1980s John Cusack.

Then I hemmed and hawed for, like, ever, about what I should write about. Should I review a book? Should I write about writing poetry? Should I write about a magazine, or the submission of poetry, or something random, like poetry in the movies?

Probably could have. But then I decided, no. I ran across a poem that moved me to tears last year, and I wanted to share it. It’s National Poetry Month and I’ll cry if I want to.

Sometimes it happens
–Brian Patten

And sometimes it happens that you are friends and then
You are not friends,
And friendship has passed.
And whole days are lost and among them
A fountain empties itself.

And sometimes it happens that you are loved and then
You are not loved,
And love is past.
And whole days are lost and among them
A fountain empties itself into the grass.

And sometimes you want to speak to her and then
You do not want to speak,
Then the opportunity has passed.
Your dreams flare up, they suddenly vanish.

And also it happens that there is nowhere to go and then
There is somewhere to go,
Then you have bypassed.
And the years flare up and are gone,
Quicker than a minute.

So you have nothing.
You wonder if these things matter and then
As soon you begin to wonder if these things matter
They cease to matter,
And caring is past.
And a fountain empties itself into the grass.

(Special thanks to Elaine for introducing me to Brian Patten in this post.)

I love this. This is an excellent author photo.

I spend a lot of time thinking about love, and friendship; about those various ties to others that we all have, and how they work, and how they don’t work, when they fail.

Read this. Just read it, please. Oh, it’s National Poetry Month. You can spare me the reading of a poem.

You are friends, and then you are not friends.

You are loved, and then you are not loved.

Isn’t it beautiful? And relatable? Isn’t the feeling in your chest when you’re going through that loss a fountain emptying itself into the grass – that feeling of loss, that feeling of emptying, of being emptied?

And then it gets better. There isn’t anywhere to go…and then there is.

The whole poem builds to you ceasing to care…but I love that everything’s not alright. It’s not that you’re healed. It’s just that you’re empty.

It’s very true, this poem. It’s not sunshine and flowers, and it’s not doom and gloom. It’s true. You lose people, and you are hollow inside, you are empty. Things do get better…but you’re changed by the experience, no matter how much you’ve moved on.

This is what I love about poetry. Other people experiencing what you have, putting their words to it, letting you into their lives for a moment, letting you feel your feelings through their own.

And a fountain empties itself into the grass.

(Thank you, Serena, for the chance to participate!)




  1. Pingback: National Poetry Month Tour Schedule & Linky
  2. Samantha

    This is a rather unsettlingly beautiful poem. I feel like it sums up the time since moving out on one’s own, when you’re adjusting to all the newness and nostalgic about the old stuff. Thanks for sharing it, Amy.

    P.S. I miss you around the blogosphere! Don’t see you as much, but I know you’re doing fun, busy things 🙂

    • lucysfootball

      He has a beautiful lyric quality to his work. Some of it’s more playful – he’s written some childrens’ poetry, actually – but his more serious work really speaks to me.

      I know! I’m here. I check in a lot. I’m just kind of absent. (Not that many fun things, actually…mostly job-searching right now…but hope to be back in fighting form soon! And there will be some blogging from Europe before you know it!)

  3. elaine4queen

    Mmmmm…. that poem is lovely, isn’t it?

    Considering he was a favourite of mine as an adolescent, I am struck by how it still resonates with me… maybe even more so now that so many friendships have gone under the bridge.

  4. Pingback: A poem a day – Day 6 – 6th of January 2016 – Sometimes it happens by Brian Patten | Of Books and Reading

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