Carver’s “Gravy”

I’ll have to admit that purely for personal reasons, Carver’s “Gravy” is probably my favorite poem. Those few who were reading “In a Dark Time” in December of 2001 will remember that I was diagnosed with throat cancer and told I would be dead in less than six months unless I got immediate treatment, and none of the treatment options seemed particularly good.


No other word will do.  For that’s what it was.


Gravy, these past ten years.

Alive, sober, working, loving, and

being loved by a good woman.  Eleven years

ago he was told he had six months to live

at the rate he was going.  And he was going

nowhere but down.  So he changed his ways

somehow.  He quit drinking!  And the rest?

After that it was all gravy, every minute

of it, up to and including when he was told about,

well, some things that were breaking down and

building up inside his head.  “Don’t weep for me,”

he said to his friends.  “I’m a lucky man.

I’ve had ten years longer than I or anyone

expected.  Pure Gravy.  And don’t forget it.”

I survived throat surgery, learned how to eat again and seem to have totally recovered from the cancer even though the odds seemed stacked against me. Since then, I’ve felt exactly like this. I sometimes think these have actually been the best years of my life, though that’s hard to say because I seldom think much beyond the moment. Though I’m not planning on dying in the near future, I seldom plan beyond that time.

And yet, if I were to die on the way home this Friday I would be happy. I need nothing more than today and today and today. It’s been all gravy.

6 thoughts on “Carver’s “Gravy””

  1. All poetry is artifice and technique by its very definition. Yet Carver is a poet who somehow manages, apparently effortlessly, to cut through all that and speak candidly and directly to us in a compelling conversational tone of both innocence and knowingness. You believe him totally. He lived it.

  2. Wonder if you also enjoy Charles Bukowski’s poetry. Although known primarily as a novelist, the poetry of his I’ve read displays a similarly direct, conversational, no-bullshit quality. Like something you’d read in a letter between two old friends.

    And congratulations on surviving and, it seems, thriving.

  3. Reading “Gravy” for the first time in the early 1990s was a turning point in my life. The eye began to see.

    From the first time I saw your photographs and read your words, loren, I knew that something extraordinarily good was going on at your blog and that it was about gratitude for life. That was early in 2004, when I bought my first and only computer and discovered blogs. I visited your blog without commenting until January of 2005 when Leslie wrote on your blog that your second round of surgery for cancer had been successful. I couldn’t keep quiet any longer!

    Like Raymond Carver’s writing during the Tess years, your writing and photographs have been for me a steady lifeline out of a long “dark time.” Thanks so much for “In A Dark Time . . The Eye Begins to See.”

  4. yes i like that..we have nothing but only today.
    we tend to dwell on the past and worry about the future too much, meanwhile our moments are slipping by; we are not enjoying/experiencing the moments we have now fully.

  5. Having arrived at your blog in 2007, I had no idea about the cancer. It helps explain why your blog is very in-the-moment, especially the gorgeous bird and flower photos, and why there is a sense of gratitude in every post. It warms me. I am so very glad you survived. FYI, in eastern Ohio I measured 16 inches of snow in the driveway, all dropped in the last 24 hours. The neighborhood streets have not been plowed. The restaurant where my son works closed yesterday and won’t reopen now until Monday. The YMCA closed. My daughter can’t come home for spring break today as planned, because even the interstates aren’t plowed. We are as snowed in as if we were in Alaska. Fortunately, the power didn’t go out…and it’s Saturday.

  6. These two poems, these two posts, encapsulate so much. I had read neither poem before. Thanks.

Comments are closed.