The Manual Of Divorce

Poems by Neal H. Brodsky

24 Hr. Family

One half Weekend, one day only.


Pick up children at 12 PM.

Drive 42 miles there and back for

Soccer practice

and listen to one of your sons

as he carefully counts the road kill

heading north for the three-times-a-month

visit with his new family.

Walk down to stream

Climb 2 rocks

Draw with crayons

Cut potatoes for French fries

Speak in French accents and

Wear homemade chef’s hats

As you serve up a story of Jean and Marie’s English Diner

Where the only thing on the menu is

Chicken fingers with fries.

Eat, smile, fire up the video, watch

Bathe, splash, laughing

screaming pillow fight and game of tag

at 11 PM.

Then sleep ‘til 6

when cat wakes you meowing at the door

followed closely by one

small boy

rubbing sleep from his eyes.

Throw clothes in wash

Pancakes burn

Laundry dry

And clean up quick

The paper, crayons, dishes, faces.

Say goodbye to rocks and trees

And talk about the garden you will plant

next week in 24 hours of

blended family time.


The eye doctor places

Mickey Mouse ears around

the frightened eight year old face

of my son before charting

his eyes that have known such loss.

The eye doctor says that divorce

puts tremendous strain around the

eye muscles of children

who would rather see a blur

than the pain of losing a father.

I was too amazed to weep

there in the office of the eye doctor

where my son

again and again smashed

the button moving the

electric examination chair

up and down and up and


He along with three-year old accomplice

Jason broke that damn chair

Shorted the damn chair out.

The eyes.

The pain is held in the eyes

of my boys who shoot

blunted daggers through my heart

each time they look at me.


When the divorce papers arrive, do not read them.

Fold and place these papers in the pocket of your favorite



plush insides that will

caress your neck.

Drive into the mountains.

Check in to a Center of


where there is no television

and you can hear the wind



Only in the morning don your windbreaker

and climb 200 feet to the top

of a mountain.

Listen to your every step

and walk with great gentleness on the

leaves that have fallen.

Clear the dead branches from a flat rock

at the top of the mountain



Breathe in the rocks,

breathe out the years.

Breathe in the sky,

breath out the angry voices.

Breathe in this ancient place,

you have always known in your heart.

And cry out the single sound of that place.

Only now as you sit at the

top of this new mountain

will you carefully


the papers of divorce

and read.

Eat the simple bread you carry.

Drink the water.

Now leave this place.

You will always hold it in your heart.

Walk Slowly Down The Mountain.


The mail will come each day.

Do not open it.

Instead place it into brown paper bags.

Hide bags in closet.

Live your life.

Open your mail another day.

Leave your television in the arms

of  your former wife.

You do not need the noise.

Recycle all newspapers before reading.

Wake early.

Listen for the soft sound of birds.

Slowly cook

in the evening,


And eat in silence.

Listen to the same music

again and again

and again.

Sing with that music.

Hear your own voice.


May you walk again in the world,

feeling your true feet beneath


A Note on The Manual of Divorce , 
by Neal H. Brodsky

I wrote these poems one by one tracing the year in which my own divorce was completed.  You, the reader will find a familiar cast – a wife, a husband, two young children, lawyers and lovers, therapists and friends.

My intention in publishing these poems together as “The Manual of Divorce” is to create an opening for what is possible when we observe and honor the occurrences of life as guides for our own growth.  Amid the many things that happen in divorce is an opportunity to re-invent oneself and re-connect with your children.

We create and populate our world with perceptions of heroes and villains.  All the while, the still small voice within speaks softly to us of love.

A poem from "The Manual of Divorce" is included in each newsletter from Love Life Counseling which you can subscribe to free of charge.

To find out how you can buy the Manual, e-mail Neal at [email protected]

Expected publication date is June 2015.

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