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"Divorce," by Tom Speer

When I saw her, or rather

the last time I saw her,

I was living on a screen porch

in the back of a dilapidated house,

one of those houses that makes you feel good

because it’s so bad. It was a hot summer day,

a day for watching the weeds and stickers grow,

and she knocked on the screen door (itself

barely hanging on the porch), knocked several

times probably because I was watching TV,

an afternoon movie, something truly vacant and hideous,

and there she was, wearing her red tank top,

flapping our divorce papers to cool off. She looked nice,

too attractive to divorce; and so we sat

on my lumpy couch, and for the only time

in our short but picturesque history, filled with

a comic and occasionally passionate disharmony,

we read together, word by word, that stern and absolute document.

Settling in to watch the rest of the dreadful movie,

we made drinks, our final gin and tonics,

and signed our names during the ads.

I was leaving town the next day, my passport and ticket

taking me as far away as possible.

When the show was over, we kissed and hugged,

overbrimming with gladness and good feeling,

and made no further promises to each other.


Tom Speer is a widely published poet who studied with Robert Mezey, Philip Levine, and Peter Everwine at Fresno State University in the late ’60s. For the past many years, Speer has lived in Tucson, Arizona, where he has established himself as a respected teacher of poetry. “Divorce” comes from his collection
My Father’s Shoes: New and Selected Poems, published by Pima Press, and is reprinted by permission.

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When I saw her, or rather

the last time I saw her,

I was living on a screen porch

in the back of a dilapidated house,

one of those houses that makes you feel good

because it’s so bad. It was a hot summer day,

a day for watching the weeds and stickers grow,

and she knocked on the screen door (itself

barely hanging on the porch), knocked several

times probably because I was watching TV,

an afternoon movie, something truly vacant and hideous,

and there she was, wearing her red tank top,

flapping our divorce papers to cool off. She looked nice,

too attractive to divorce; and so we sat

on my lumpy couch, and for the only time

in our short but picturesque history, filled with

a comic and occasionally passionate disharmony,

we read together, word by word, that stern and absolute document.

Settling in to watch the rest of the dreadful movie,

we made drinks, our final gin and tonics,

and signed our names during the ads.

I was leaving town the next day, my passport and ticket

taking me as far away as possible.

When the show was over, we kissed and hugged,

overbrimming with gladness and good feeling,

and made no further promises to each other.


Tom Speer is a widely published poet who studied with Robert Mezey, Philip Levine, and Peter Everwine at Fresno State University in the late ’60s. For the past many years, Speer has lived in Tucson, Arizona, where he has established himself as a respected teacher of poetry. “Divorce” comes from his collection
My Father’s Shoes: New and Selected Poems, published by Pima Press, and is reprinted by permission.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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