Patric Pepper

My Compassion


Where are you my unbearable feelings of sympathy?

I’ve searched since 1956 after the ice cream truck incident.


How could Mother deny me my Creamsicle?—There!

There you are, my compassion: sympathy for me.


But where are you, really? I need you, not the phrases

I mostly borrow from public television and sitcoms.


Betsy languishes at Sea Shore Point with her fractured

hip and her broken brain, and poor Derek attends her like


Mother Teresa. Young Allan, 15, wants to know

what to do with the pendulum of flesh between his legs.


And the daylilies undergo their crucifixions—day by day—

as Mary Ann, persistent in joy for their trombones of color,


calls Derek tonight. Where are you, my undeniable feelings

I have denied thrice before dawn these 20,000 days?

I See on Facebook


you have slipped on

a gown and mortarboard

like the condom of normalcy

and therefore

at the risk of sounding avuncular

I wish for you safe sex

when you make love with the world

and I recommend

now that you have chosen your path

that you be promiscuous

for only promiscuity will bring on

the career you long for,

and should normalcy ever break

in the middle of the act

remember that all is not lost

because the child born

may be rich and strange

may look into your eyes as if

it knows something, you to be exact,

and may seize you by the careful hands

with which you hold it

like the pearl of great price,

albeit you

will perhaps eat beans and drink water

for the rest of your life

as your valued contacts, your network

your hobbies and eventually your name

slip from you

like dollar bills

inexplicably tossed

into the river, on which by the way

I have watched

a stellar assortment of occupations

float by.

Patric Pepper has published two collections of poetry, a chapbook, Zoned Industrial, and a full-length collection, Temporary Apprehensions, which was a 2004 winner of the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Poetry Prize (WWPH). From 2008 through 2013, Pepper was President of WWPH, and continues to serve as production coordinator. His work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, most recently Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Broadkill Review, District Lines, Gargoyle, and The Innisfree Poetry Journal. He splits his time between Washington D.C. and North Truro, Massachusetts.



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A CLOSER LOOK: Betty Adcock

Grace Cavalieri

Patricia L. Hamilton

Sonja James

Rod Jellema

Robert Krenz

Miles David Moore

Jean Nordhaus

Kyle Norwood

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Barbara J. Orton

William Page

Patric Pepper

Oliver Rice

W.M. Rivera

Peter Serchuk

M.R. Smith

Ellen Steinbaum

Myrna Stone

Robert Joe Stout

Tim Suermondt

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