I don’t want to oversell this poem, but I think it’s pretty good.
For a long time, I’ve thought it’s the best poem I’ve ever written, but maybe that’s a myth I just built in my own mind.
I wrote it in 1986, when I was still in college, and dating an older woman, and the relationship was running its course. I was somewhat tied down because I was living with this lady and had few financially viable options for an alternative residence.
I wrote the poem and showed it to a few friends. They all immediately recognized what the real meaning was, and they praised it. Repeatedly, they praised it.
Lacking judgment, and filled with ego, I showed it to my girlfriend. She immediately recognized herself in the poem, and was (probably rightfully so) was offended. She demanded I destroy the poem. Lacking courage in the face of homelessness, I destroyed the copy I had in hand. I neglected to mention a trusted friend had a copy.
For years, that copy was the only copy. I never got around to making another copy or putting it on disk.
A while back, when I started putting my poems on this blog, it was the first poem that sprung to mind for publication. But I couldn’t find that single copy. I knew it had to be in my house somewhere, but without it in hand, I was worried that it was gone forever.
Yesterday, I found a box of old computer catalogs. Stuck in the middle was a folder of my poems, including this one — which I present to you now: Helen Wasn’t Worth Fighting For.