They were green as cash and though I glued them
in their rows, I never got a chance to redeem them,
careless enough

that once I went to J.C. Penny’s Lost and Found,
down in the basement like the sheets,
looking for my bag, brown and tassled–
but instead retrieved a black patent leather
I’d lost some years before,
my Sunday School purse, unsnapping it
to my book of saving stamps, though the Tru-Value Store no longer was
in business–

Redemption is something I find hard
to get right–
take certain things I’ve done=-
matters of life and death–at least, of a good death–
acts for those I loved–a taste of honey, an insistence
on no more pain, even just the lending
of a rose-fogged lens, doctored
I could line them up in a book,
but there’s no cashing in

acts shelved low in the heart.
I might wish they could be lost,
but they’re forever found–acts that seem to have acted
on their own, but that, in fact, were acts taken,
and the price I pay is a price
I will pay always–
the price of love.


Here is a very belated poem for Fireblossom’s Friday (Shay’s) prompt on With Real Toads about redemption.  I am also linking this to the Open LInk Nights on With Real Toads and dVerse Poets Pub.  

I have revised since posting a couple of weeks ago as I do not think people really “got” the poem the way that it was written–the problem with posting too early.  It had read

and the price I pay is a price
I will pay always, the price
of loss, the price of love, not
an even exchange.

But the poem is really about acts that we take out of love for a person, especially a sick person, acts that could be viewed later as hastening their death–I’m not talking about illegal acts, but merciful acts, and yet one does revisit the decisions always.  Anyway.  I don’t know if anyone will revisit this poem!  But I’ve changed it now.  k. 
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34 Comments on “Unredeemed”

  1. This raises all the memories of stamp campaigns… rows of them in grade school for US savings bonds… or to help TB… guess it was a marketing idea to lure us in some pyramid scheme. Or just licking the stamps for the snail mail…now I am thinking of the couple by me the other night whose food stamp card did not work…naturally I just paid it for them with a ten dollar bill. (not that I am rich) But the thing is… it would have been nice to pay back the people who helped me in time of need than new ones… for in this world I am sad that friendship cannot be redemed for they are long moved on… Still, sometimes we find lost things again and I am not sure the place we found them was not worked by unseen hands.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    So many things we collect turn out lost and irredeemable–the smooth, orderly weaving of images and symbols in this contrasts really well with the roughness of the emotions, the contradictions of time and attachment, the right things lost, the wrong things found, or the right found too late, actions taken that can never be undone–all things potential that are ‘shelved low in the heart,’ that we walk by without realizing we will never find again. Or so I read, a bit incoherently. I love the tumble of confusion and clarity, knowledge and regret in this, k. Forgive me if I’ve gone astray on your drift.

  3. I like the way you have progressed from the literal bag, so representative of all one holds dear, to less tangible items one may lose or fail to lose in life. This is deeply introspective and very affecting poetry.

  4. claudia Says:

    it is never an even exchange…true… we fill our shelves with lots of good and not so good things…if someone put it on a scale…i dunno… mine would probably hang heavily to the bad side… best to start with a clean slate each day… fresh soil to leave our footprints…

  5. ayala Says:

    Redemption is something I find hard
    to get right…so true..for all of us.

  6. brian miller Says:

    the price of loss and love not being an even exchange…yeah i know that…i like hte texture you give it with the old stamp books and lining them up only to find they have little value….lot of feeling just under the surface of this one….

  7. life and death–at least, of a good death–
    acts for those I loved–a taste of honey, an insistence
    on no more pain,

    Incredible powerful! and such great imagery’s you’ve got.

  8. Linda Rogers Says:

    Don’t we wish life was as easy as even exchange. I found a sadness here that pulled me in. Lovely write!

  9. I remember those stamps! I like how this cleverly changes from redeeming to redemption. Guilt, the gift that keeps on giving. We can never go back, but hopefully in going forward can do better and redeem ourselves in other ways. Nicely captured.

  10. Not many even exchanges in life. We have to settle for paying it forward I suppose. I like the Greenstamps metaphor. When I was uprooting my old self to re-install myself in my house of 43 years, I came across 3 books in the bottom drawer of a desk and wished I had known in time to have done something with them. I felt that sense of disappointment and self-exasperation you explore so well here.

  11. howanxious Says:

    Redemption is a personal thing… we may chose to accept it or not.
    I liked the journey you provided through your verses. Very well-written.

  12. Pat Hatt Says:

    redemption can be a rough road some times, but should one act, it can be taken

  13. Truedessa Says:

    redemption…how does that work exactly..is it a state of forgiveness by ourselves, others or a higher source..I guess we just continue the journey the best we can..living and learning one step at a time.

  14. Makes me want to write a poem about S&H green stamps and mourn a simpler time.

  15. A challenge to write about redemption K ~ I specially like these lines though (use of the price struck me) ~

    the price I pay is a price
    I will pay always, the price
    of loss, the price of love, not
    an even exchange.

  16. Love the last stanza – the way you used act and then the conclusion – redemption never even – and those stamps (on cards for a free cup of coffee) – deep and thoughtworthy

  17. Oh that final stanza hits home, kiddo……this poem is a wonder, from beginning to end.

  18. Brilliant poem! “Redemption is something I find hard
    to get right–” loved this line especially.

  19. p.s. (re your comment at my place) your wrinkled pumpkins have much wisdom. Listen to them, when they speak:) Cackle. (Hallowe’en is coming. I can feel my Inner Witch popping out…..)

  20. Margaret Says:

    It starts out specific and then… its as if the items spill out, become unhidden… and your use of the “acts” word – makes me think of “Acts of the Apostles”… as if you are being led to contemplation … 🙂

  21. janehewey Says:

    Not an even exchange. Found but not redeemed. Or, not found at all. The metaphor is really effective. I love your opening. I had those books of stamps. Seldom full, always starting a new one. I loved the whole idea of them. I felt a certain memory of old when you find your Sunday School purse. A wonderful poem. I admire how you uncover yourself in the telling.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Jane–I’ve changed this poem – if you have any time, I’d love your feedback–I had the new ending as an original ending but it felt a bit simpering to me==anyway, if you have any time, let me know your thoughts. If not, please don’t worry about it!

  22. Helen Dehner Says:

    Sobering …. ‘and the price I pay is a price I will pay always’ .. yes.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, Helen. You know your comment has made me revisit this poem and I realize that I really didn’t get it write–I kept going on at the end and it should end simply with “the price of love,” which was what I was talking about here. Live and learn. Thanks for your kind comment. k.

  23. janehewey Says:

    Your new version reads very clearly. “acts shelved low” is a great way to get across your intention, I think. The use of the word “found” is also key for understanding -it recalls the finding of your Sunday School purse and the stamp books. Carrying this metaphor through to the end is especially useful. I personally enjoyed the “not an even exchange” in your first version but also find your last line in the new one to be concise and sobering. Love, being unmeasurable, is really beyond an even exchange. Nice rework, karin. Some poems, such as this one which speaks to the heart on many different levels, are worthy of extra care and fine-tuning. Your title is still perfect.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful reading. I liked the “not an even exchange” also, but I don’t think people understood it-= or they fixated on that part. Who knows? More time will pass and I’m sure when I come back to it, it will be clearer. I do so appreciate your time and careful eye. K.

  24. Jamie Dedes Says:

    Hmmm, yes. Redemption is a tricky business … and the rewrite is better. Good stuff, k.

    Enjoyed my visit today. Be well and poem on …

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, Jamie. I am on your blog but on iPad with weird internet that is not loading “Likes” or rather endlessly loading “like” so will have to return to make a mark later. The stream of consciousness is lovely — very natural and so great you can abandon those difficult things (i.e. certain relationships.) I agree with Jung. (And I think pepple relate to drama–why they like quotes of alienation maybe>) I will come back when I can “like”–probably on real computer, though I’m waiting to see if this loads eventually. Thanks. k.

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