There Is No Meaning Here

December 9, 2019

Christine Kanownik: I’m Christine Kanownik, and this is PoetryNow. I had a very, very religious phase in high school, later high school. I spent a lot of time with religious texts. I would go to a lot of different churches and different places of worship, and I always find religion and religious imagery very compelling while maintaining absolutely no belief right now. I think that a lot of people use religion for comfort, and I think that’s the real beauty that I find in religion.


There Is No Meaning Here
every night
an ancient priest
gives me advice
and in the morning
I’m all alone
with nothing
a universe
I don’t want
to bother you
or to upend
the universe
but your realtors
are getting
a divorce
the dark
is the dark
the wind
the sound
of the ocean
all relative
to the sensitivity
of a tiny
chain of bones
leading up
to or away from
your eardrum
like, you say
this playlist is
really good
and what can
I do but continue
not to listen
I can ignore
can’t get past
the front door

* * *

I think that there is something interesting about a non-religious person seeking out spiritual advice. When it comes to the speaker of this poem,

there is an extreme personal edge where, the speaker sounds like me, has my thoughts, but there’s something I wanted to get out that was more universal. The most personal aspect of this poem is probably the last stanza.


I can ignore / can’t get past / the front door

I can easily ignore things. I can ignore advice, whether from an ancient priest or from a friend trying to get me to listen to a playlist, but that doesn’t mean that I can always have the ability to act, or to live in a way that I feel like is beneficial to the world. You know, in this tricky capitalist time where we’re seeing a lot of things fall apart, we’re seeing the not so pretty underbelly of certain institutions that we were raised believing in, or at least not really thinking about too much. And then, you know, I’m in my 30s now, I like to think I have all the right opinions. But, you know, I get all angry about everything going on in the world, and then I spend a lot of time looking at Dutch ovens on the Internet. When I come back to the title, “There Is No Meaning Here,” it really is a lot about trying to find hope in places, trying to find comfort, while also realizing the certain futility of the action. Just the idea of poetry, and saying something in a poem, is so absurd, you know, in 2019, but whatever problem I was setting out to address has not been solved.

Katie Klocksin: That was Christine Kanownik and her poem “There Is No Meaning Here.” I’m Katie Klocksin and this is PoetryNow, a production of the Poetry Foundation. For more about this series, go to

Christine Kanownik examines the place of religion and spirituality in secular life. Produced by Katie Klocksin.

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