I Know How to Fall

I know how to fall
out of love in a flash,
without skinning my heart

or breaking
my hubris’ bone.

I make list after list
(five days prior to the arrival of now)
and for each item, I create ‘What ifs…’

What if my lips are cracked and bloodied,
and I can’t wake the princess with a kiss?

What if exhaustion makes me thoughtless,
and I break the crystal coffin
without seeing what lies within?

What if gut and backbone turn against me,
and I can’t take three steps
without crying twelve howls and one shriek?

Unknowns must be roused properly,
coffins are too valuable to lose.
If my nerve leaves me,
I’ll run into the woods
and reclaim it.

I know how to fall
out of love
with what’s expected—

I practice.


About the Image: the artwork is part of “a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty” story. I chose it because Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell took the traditionally expected “happily ever after”, and reshaped it into a tale in which a lot more characters can do some real living.

for NaPoWriMo with Magaly Guerrero 2015, Day 25 – Anticipating Mayhem: Write a poem that lets us glimpse into how you ready yourself before facing known troubles, and what you do to cope once mayhem has done its thing.

The Sleeper and the Spindle“…detail from The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell. Photograph: Chris Riddell/Bloomsbury”

33 thoughts on “I Know How to Fall”

  1. First of all, I love the fairy tale theme you are playing with here. I think the heroes and heroines often have these sort of doubts before they go off to save the day. I really like how you began and ended with “I know how to fall out of love…” twisting the genre on its head. This one is really delightful.

    • Sometimes, we need to twist things on their heads in order to make sense of them… Many times this works, and when it doesn’t, we must be ready. Perhaps, with a list of “What ifs”.

  2. I, the expert on falling, declare this one of the best poems I have ever read! Brilliant to allude to fairy tales throughout and talk of possible failures/falls! Each is, of course a possible success or a “so what” –but the “falling out” of whatever–a freely chosen fall takes a little practice. Ironic, huh? I hate falling out of love, but if I can do it and not hurt myself, or do it not to hurt myself? Great! A cautionary tale!

    • I think knowing (or understanding) that everybody falls, even the heroes of legend and fairy tale, reminds us that if we hit the mud, there is good chance we can get up and start over.

      I’m so glad you like it so much. 😉

  3. Fantastic. I love that all the prep still allows running into the woods… And that running into the woods is what reclaims the nerve 🙂

    Also, that picture is beautiful and perfect in so many ways.

  4. Nice write. The language has an interesting rhythm to it and, like Rommy, I enjoyed the fairy tale themes. “Crystal Coffin”, alliteration and weird imagery= nice.

  5. That is a great skill, and as the old Paul Simon song says, ‘You gotta learn how to fall/before you learn how to fly..’ I can relate to the list making, too–and your choice of images, the broken kiss, the coffin of the heart shattered, do give a fairy-tale mood to the stark pains of life–most fairy-tales were plenty grim, and the happily ever after thing only came after suffering, injustice, and wrong. But there is a strong seasoning of reality to the mix as well.

    • I’m glad you saw the “reality” under that glamour… I believe that many times, the only way we can get back to our feet is if we make it all into an adventure we can complete. If not, the nightmare of reality can consume us and spit us out.

  6. I always have plans B through F – and often through Z
    Falling with grace is part of most of the plans (although certainly not in Plan F)

  7. I know how to fall
    out of love
    with what’s expected:

    Oh I was so struck by these beautiful lines full of depth & wisdom… May we all learn when to fall out of something which isn’t right for us..!
    Lots of love,

  8. Oh, the fields of love are sown with hidden mayhem, so much of it self-wrought. The plan, the braveness to carry it out even with all of the doubt and personal pain. The last 4 lines broke my heart. I thought this was beautiful, painful, as most love can be.

    • I think that many times planning and planning, knowing that it’s okay if the plan that took a million years to craft doesn’t pan out… that we will still live… I think hat’s what makes us brave. ♥

  9. Deep breath, ahhhh, this is magic Ms Wicked. Oh I have the book your illustration comes from too… Another deep breath… another magic moment.

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