Wednesday Poem

“Some writers get into the habit of letting of a name a metaphor without really showing the image to the reader: sea of life, mattress of the soul, river of death . . . or (perhaps the worst) briefcase of sorrow.”
—Frances Mayes, The Discovery of Poetry

Briefcase of Sorrow

My briefcase of sorrow slumps by the door.
The semester’s done. I leave it behind,
all my manilla folders of grief (stacked
and alphabetized, bound with rubber bands
of stretched hope), pens of overachievement,
and pencils of petty angst. At some point,
I suppose I should dump its insides out
on the table, the staple remover
of apocalypse, a few sticky notes
of indecision. Poor briefcase— it can’t
ingest them, try as it may, and I should
especially purge the gradebook of mixed
endeavors, the crumbs of last month’s sandwich.
Not now. My neighborhood pub calls louder
than some cloying briefcase, strap of pity
wagging as I leave, its two bright buckles
of expectation gleaming for my return
once again, when I spill its contents,
the paper clips of despair, the Wetnaps
of desire, bringing it, light and swinging,
along my side to fill one more time its
compartment of everything and nothing.

by Richard Newman
The Best American Poetry 2006
Scribner Poetry