November 19, 2014 by rebelwithalabelmaker

For Robin Williams


I remember the moment when
I discovered I could
make you laugh

at first, “make” might have been
too strong a word

you wanted to laugh
and I could
release that in you

I began so determinedly sculpting
each piece of me
the twist of the my mouth
the pitch of my voice—the moment of pause

until I could pull the chorus of giggles out of you
at will
like a rain dancer

until it really became

there is nothing like the moment
when an entire room
allows you, for just a moment
to control the very breath
inside their lungs


I remember the moment when
I discovered I could
make you

How I could exhale just the right
phrase, story

timing my words so that I could
feel you inhale them as they left me

I learned I could put
pieces of my story
into your bloodstream

I remember the first moment when
an entire room drew breath
at the end of one of my sentences

I discovered I could create
giggles and sighs and even

and then I got
lost in it somewhere


I don’t quite remember when I started breathing in
with you

At some point I began
inhaling your laughter
instead of oxygen

phrases that I might exhale freely and without thought
tightly choreographed
my words formed you
and you formed
my words

until I could hear
underneath each sentence
the tapping of a metronome

a timer
counting down
to absolute silence


I would be that comedian
that preacher

there are days when I want so badly to be
funny, so
wise, so

days when I feel addicted to that
and I can imagine a world where it
could easily become the only moment when I could


the more he breathed in tandem with us
the harder it became to tell
who was the drug
and who was the user

when he stopped exhaling
a whole country
became starved for

unable to understand how he could have become airless
while surrounded with so much laughter

that morning, I sat down at the computer
and wrote for days

what was true
instead of what would fit the shape
of your lungs

5 thoughts on “Formation

  1. Ed Proulx says:

    Why did his passing hit so many people I know so harshly. I posted twice about it on my blog in two days that I don’t normally post.

    I love the imagery here. Michealangelo said that the statue was already in the rock, his job was to chip away at the unnecessary bits. You’re saying that the laughter and the gasp were already there, the comedian or actor just brings them out. That’s beautiful – hopeful, maybe, but still beautiful.

    Sometimes the oneness can feel like a curse rather than a blessing. I hope you’re OK.

    • Wow, Ed. I so much love the poem you read more than the poem I wrote! I don’t know why it hit everyone so hard… I have a hunch why it hit comedians and ministers so hard, though. There was an amazing article on cracked about it called “why funny people kill themselves”…

      • Ed Proulx says:

        Read the Cracked Article. Ok, so let’s look at this from just a different angle. Maybe its not that funny people are more susceptible than most to suicide, maybe its that people who are more susceptible to suicide are funny.

        Maybe funny is the symptom. The unbearable lightness of being, right, with an emphasis on the unbearable part…

        3 is where the subject and the object merge. 1 and 2 are empathy, 3 is sympathy and 5 is transference. Not bad, just is. Not bad if you know it just is, though, right?

  2. Medbhlet says:

    You really are a very talented poet, Liz.

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