Donald Zirilli, “My Mother Won’t Let Go”

Donald Zirilli was a finalist for the James Tate Prize and a nominee for the Forward Prize. He was editor of Now Culture and is a member of the Red Wheelbarrow Gang. His poetry was published in Anti- poetry magazine, ART TIMES, Nerve Lantern, River Styx, and other periodicals and anthologies. He and his wife live in an idyllic corner of New Jersey with two dogs and a cat. His chapbook, Heaven’s Not For You, was published in September 2018 by Kelsay Books.

orange line

My Mother Won’t Let Go

My mother won’t let go, as if I were
a kite or fishing pole. The party’s not
for me. The celebrants all stare at her,
at us, at this unending clutch, this clot
of blood, of love. She won’t endure the loss,
won’t let me die or even be afraid
of dying, not while she’s alive, the cost
too high to borrow or collect. She’s paid
enough already, watched me grow apart
and blessed me on my way. She won’t condone
departure from this world. She holds on hard,
as if she were a cast on broken bones.
A love too great for me to comprehend,
the power that made me will not let me end.





2 thoughts on “Donald Zirilli, “My Mother Won’t Let Go”

  1. The title of the poem grabbed me right away, and the very first line. I was intrigued by the comparison, so I had to read on. I loved the rich, clipped sounds (t’s, hard c’s, l’s, long o’s, short o’s). Then the deft use of internal rhymes as well as end rhymes, which were so subtle I didn’t notice them until later readings. I also didn’t notice until later the sonnet format.

    I was able to enjoy the poem on both levels–the structure of it as well as the content, which to me, is quite gripping. If I remember, a sonnet is a poem of praise, so this is praising a mother’s love? Yet I get an ambiguous feeling from the narrator. Is the mother’s love saving or smothering?

    Anyway, this is one of my favorite poems that has appeared in this journal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. What a thoughtful reading. I take it as a great compliment that you didn’t notice it was a sonnet right away.


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