Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 12
Spring 2015

Dear Steve

by Peter J. Lautz

I’m remembering that last poem you helped me with, the one about talking to a friend on Skype being like a road trip through eastern Europe to a glistening lake in summer, and how you found the noun “goodness” I used to stand for what had happened between her and me, as “ruinous”—your word, not mine—and how your reaction confused me, how in response to your pushing me to be more clear, I tried to tell you what this “goodness” meant to me.

Then I backed off from our dialogue when you persisted in finding my word as “ruinous” to the poem. Whether it was my fragile ego or a strong sense of what I wanted to say no matter what you, the accomplished poet thought, I lost the chance that night to learn how to write verse that sings more powerfully, more humanly, perhaps.

And now, a week later, you’re gone and I didn’t find the time to tell you this, Steve, but you were right that “goodness” didn’t really convey anything real or true or useful in writing my little story. Yes, I felt let down in that difficult late-night email conversation; and yes, I miss your generous heart, your rambunctious intelligence that threw such sensuous light onto all our lives, your commitment to say it like it is to help a fledging poet say it better, your challenging me to write and re-write until it’s as clear and pristine as that good day at the imagined lake in the Baltics.

Yes, dear Steve, you master poet in old blue jeans,
you mirthful mensch with that torn crotch in faded
dungarees, your eyes ablaze with mischief and
earthy fierce compassion,

I miss what I will call
your goodness, now.


—First appeared in The Beautiful Mundane on 26 April 2015;
republished here by author’s permission
SHJ Issue 12
Spring 2015

Peter J. Lautz

Based in San Diego, Lautz is a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) with 35 years of psychotherapy experience in both private practice and healthcare settings. He also writes poetry, paints, and creates unusual, often semi-abstract photographs. And he loves hiking and hitting the running trails in nearby canyons and hills.

Author’s blog: The Beautiful Mundane

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury