POEM A DAY 3: The book of failures

Almeda Glenn Miller
By Almeda Glenn Miller
April 10th, 2012

I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph. ~ jack gilbert

When the snow slides off a roof, or down a mountain, this is a structural failure.

When the earth strikes itself and mountains are built, something below has failed.

When the grocerybag rips, and the jujubes and dark chocolates and candied ginger litter the street, the only thing that has failed is your disguise.

When you lock the brakes and the car keeps sliding, this is an accumulation of failures.

When you squeeze the right brake on your mountain bike, suddenly.  This is a painful failure.

When the coffee is weak, and your mug has yesterday’s food stuck on the rim, these are appliance failures.

When your dog eats someone’s duck eggs, jumps into the frog pond, and smells bad all day, every day, this is instinct; this is not a failure. When your cat misjudges a coyote. This is a failure of instinct. 

When you think laziness is cool, and being critical is thinking critically. When you can’t get through a dinner without passing judgment on your daughter’s choices. When you treat one child as gifted and another as not.  These are social failures.

When readers no longer care about punctuation.

When your mother thinks an emoticon makes up for a multitude of other syntactical sins.

When your daughter still reads for plot and a close friend tells you she doesn’t care for complex themes.

When your neighbours wave and you forget to wave back.

When everybody else is in child’s pose and you are still getting your props together.

These are random failures that keep you awake at night.


When you promise your husband a child but become one instead, this is not a failure, this is deception.

When he can’t seem to make a move without your permission.

When you forget to say hello and goodbye and the kiss is a swipe and he hasn’t looked you in the eye for days.  This is detachment.

When he hasn’t touched you for God knows how long and you are so self-absorbed you don’t even hear him leave. These are sad little failures that happen toward the end of love.


When you have a thought, lose that thought, this is the brain failing.

When your arms aren’t long enough to read. These are your eyes failing.

When you can’t tell whether you are the asshole or he is.  This is self-awareness failing.

When you end a relationship with a text message.  This is cowardice.


When your thumb appears on all the photographs.

When the bread doesn’t rise.

When the fire goes out.

When the sea dies.

When the words go missing…


You will fail,

and others will fail,

and buildings will fail

and the earth will crack open

but on any given day it’s not the only thing that happens.  Sometimes, stepping deeper into the desert is the only way you get to the difficult, hard-to-reach places.  And when you get to those difficult, hard-to-reach places – where the centre of love resides – you’ll have come to the end of another triumph, you’ll have flown close to the sun, you’ll have been daring and courageous and felt its heat.

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