Published on Academy of American Poets (

My Sadness

Another year is coming to an end
but my old t-shirts will not be back—

the pea-green one from Trinity College,
gunked with streaks of lawnmower grease,

the one with orange bat wings
from Diamond Cavern, Kentucky,

without a trace.

After a two-day storm I wander the beach
admiring the ocean’s lack of attachment.

I huddle beneath a seashell,
lonely as an exile.

My sadness is the sadness of water fountains.
My sadness is as ordinary as these gulls

importuning for Cheetos or scraps
of peanut butter sandwiches.

Feed them a single crust
and they will never leave you alone.


Copyright © 2016 by Campbell McGrath. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 28, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“As you get older, certain facts come sharply into focus, like the importance of t-shirts in our lives. If you live in a place like Florida your wardrobe may consist of little else. T-shirts are boon companions, and their loss is a reminder of the fleeting and ineffable nature of existence. As for Cheetos, just don’t bring them to the beach, ok?”
—Campbell McGrath


Campbell McGrath

Campbell McGrath is the author of ten collections of poetry, including XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century, In The Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys, Shannon, and Seven Notebooks. His third book, Spring Comes to Chicago, won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

Date Published: 2016-09-28

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