Putting To Words the Reasoning That Happens Automatically in my Head Anytime I Realize I’m Not Talking Enough in a Conversation

I am a good listener

I let people take the wheel in conversation sometimes

I can “mhm” or “uh-huh” through an entire dialogue

Because sometimes people need to get their stuff off their chest

And I can take a hand at trying to make profundities

Or at least offer a joke to lighten the mood

I am pretty funny after all


I am a bit of a pushover

I end up left out of conversations sometimes

Just kind of letting it go by with “mhm” or “uh-huh”

Because sometimes people need to get their stuff off their chest

And I try to offer advice sometimes but I don’t always know every(any)thing

And then I make some stupid wisecrack and make them wish they hadn’t opened up

Being pretty funny or a wiseass and after all is said and done feeling like the joke.

And it gets worse if people don’t open up to me

Because I like to know what’s going on

I really do want to help if I can

But then I start being nosy where it isn’t my place to

And I get petty or passive aggressive about it, pushy even

But pushover since I don’t just ask “what’s up?”

I don’t even seem to recognize it blowing back up in my face



Every now and again

I think I really do help someone out

I have a moment of insight that makes an “uh-huh” an “aha!”

And then I can joke with them a little since their mind is at ease

And be the kind of friend I wanna be for them

Because I am pretty funny, or I can be


So if I take those moments I’m offered and make something of them

I don’t need to push people around about it

And maybe then if everyone is happy

I am a good listener after all



Inheritance of Golden Tiles

Our kitchen table is always cluttered,

Because my dad is a bit of a packrat.

Covered in stacks of paper from who knows where,

School fliers, forms, newspapers,

Maybe even letters,

Golden tiles scattered across a beautiful Scrabble board which,

Since my Grandmother passed away,

Has also made its residence on our kitchen table.


Dad and I dragged half a dozen cabinets out of her house when my aunt moved into it,

Taken for practical reasons with a serious face,

In a house that was so untouched by the changes around it that it felt haunted.

I suppose he needed no help in carrying out the Scrabble board,

Because I don’t remember him grabbing it while I was there.

He doesn’t like to show his sentimental side,

But he’s taken us out to the kitchen to play on it half a dozen times since he’s gotten it.


The silk sack for holding those golden tiles is gone.

We just use whatever’s handy,

A minor setback like that can’t stop my dad,

Though I’m sure that missing piece hurts a lot.

When I think about it, something else is gone from the magic of the board,

That must have gone with my Grandmother.


My siblings and I, God willing, won’t fight over what our parents leave us.

We’ll be too busy mourning the loss of the greatest mom and dad we could’ve asked for.

And I’ll ask them, in between tears,

To keep the Scrabble board, with its golden tiles.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if I found the racks were missing,

That dad had taken them,

And we’d use what was handy to hold our letters,

Steeling our faces against our feelings when we played,

But feeling them cutting like steel through us,

Like dad does, did.

Those golden tiles might not spell it,

But they certainly mean I love you.


2:34AM, Warm and Blustery

The wind is blustery!

I duck into a bus stop for a bit of cover

A lamp nearby mimes lightning flashes

To go with the stormwinds

And lack of rain


I might be afraid if I wasn’t so happy

Cheerful blustery night winds

Take away the woes of days bygone

Let me stand and face you

Let me feel as one with you


Multilayered grey clouds in the stars’ place

Not as marvelous but pretty in their way

Taken as I am by, with the wind

Stars hidden by lights not dim

But keep me safe as I tarry


I love the snow

But give me any day these warm faux spring nights

Where I can spread my coat to the wind

And think I might fly

To reach the height of my fancy



I’ve been struggling with knowing just what I want in life for a while now.

It’s a void of question marks, and I feel like I don’t have anything.

I know what I don’t want, though those thoughts tend to sneak 

Into your head when you doubt.  I don’t want those things.

  You always know what you don’t want but never 

What you do want… There’s that slip again.

I noticed that when I address

My problems 

I switch


A “you”

In my talking.

Why did you let this happen?

You should’ve started earlier.  Stuff like that.

I wondered… I wonder if that is some kind of thoughtless

Defense.  An internal lapse in responsibility.  A lapse which traces 

Back to fear.  That void arises when I don’t find an answer.  The answer is

In me.  I’m scared to look so deep.  I’m scared to take that long period of self-reflection

I can’t decide whether time is more like a clock or an hourglass.  Does it futilely spin around while you waste your time being afraid?  Or does it slowly fall away, while you waste your time? Being afraid.

All I can say for certain is that I don’t have any answers to the questions I need.  

I’m afraid I won’t have the time to ask the ones I really need to.

I’m afraid that in the end I’ll end up not knowing.

Because not knowing stays with you till the end of time.



Biographical Note: Robert Austin is a Junior of the class of ‘23 attending Assumption University.  He is pursuing an English Major with the hopes of one day becoming an author.  Robert is 21 years old, the son of Randall and Madelyn Austin, and has two sisters, Rebecca and Rachael.