Book Cover:  The Other LifeThe Other Life

Poems by Andrea Hollander Budy

Story Line Press
$12.95, 80 pages.
ISBN:  1-885266-98-7


“ evocative gathering of narrative poems revolving around the theme of
the road not taken,...these poems explore that nameless longing engendered
by alternative possibilities: What Might Have Been.”  —Rita Dove

“This book works magic: there are moments, feelings, truths in life that we
cannot speak of with words...because they fail to convey the depth, the
heart of the matter...yet these poems move into the realm of the unspeakable
and speak eloquently...saying what you felt and understood (or came close to
comprehending) but could never vocalize.... This is a book you will want to
share, to give to those that you love because it is pure, timeless, and
needed.”  —Shea Hembrey

“If you need a reason to reaffirm your belief in life, its ordinary,
wondrous details, you’ll want to explore Andrea Hollander Budy’s second
collection of poetry, THE OTHER LIFE.”  —Jo McDougall

“I’ve known many of the poems in THE OTHER LIFE individually and liked them
one by one.  But reading them together in the collection provides a cumulative power that is nearly overwhelming.  THE OTHER LIFE is a superb
and utterly mature book—the work of an artist not just a writer.” —Dana

Sample Poems

Delta Flight 1152

After the first drink, you can be
what you’re not. It’s so easy, all you must do

is answer this man’s questions with truths
you’ve just invented—
on my way to the annual meeting

of master magicians, or to a conference of physicists
or international bankers—and your life is enviable,

new. Tell him you’re sad because you’re on your way
to your sister’s wedding and you’re in love

with her fiancé. Wipe your eyes,
sigh, mention almost under your breath the baby

you had to give up, the job. You’re the one
who introduced them, you couldn’t stop yourself, he would come

to your desk at the office. How lonely he was,
how young. But if you reveal the afternoon

of lunch on the rooftop, how for you
it wasn’t enough, there’s certain danger

this man, his drink finished, ice diluted
in the bottom of his plastic cup, will lean too far

into your invented life. He’ll offer his handkerchief. 
You’ll finger his embroidered initials. He’ll touch your arm,  

hand you his card. His voice unsteady,
he’ll tell you to call him at home—you,

an only child on her way
to see the ocean for the first time. You, who have managed

to live a moral life, whose troubled heart has never
surrendered, now with your wild and dangerous

lies, you could turn toward this stranger
and open.


Pensioner, Leicester Square, London

My heart tightened when I saw him
shivering alone on a stoop

but I did not stop. I walked by nodding, smiling,
hoping he’d take what I’d given,

hoping that when I returned
he’d be gone.

Later I thought
the heart is born to singing, even alone.

Even in its tiny despair
it earns its place

high in its own steeple.
For isn’t despair a song,

rich and singular as prayer?
And don’t the gods, too, have hearts?

Or do they smile
only on the one who stops, who hears

the thin tune, dull and off key,
who enters

the locked church of another,
who kneels and sings along.



When you asked if I wanted to see
and I said yes, you opened your robe,
lifted off the gauze, and exposed
a barbed wire fence cut
through a field of snow.
The snow wasn’t white exactly
but used or forgotten, the air
hardened by winter so that
to breathe was to choke.
And along its black length
that separated into two
your past and your future,
that fence was streaked
with indecipherable detritus
as though some small animal
had been dragged from its life into it
and died there, its clots of fur
still frozen in the barb. 
This is your chest, I told myself,
not some deserted pasture
flattened by winter over
what is lost or missing.
I should have closed my eyes
or pictured the ocean instead.
Twenty-seven years after your death
I still can’t turn away. I shut my eyes
and see your chest stitched closed.
If only poems were the only places
to know such cold.