How Do I Hate Thee - Poems by Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehlers

Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehlers
Author photograph: Jordan Rueckert

Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehlers’ third full-length book, How Do I Hate Thee? is a splendid collection of verse transforming well-known poems-of-the-past into versions that are at once raucous and heart-breaking. They will make you laugh and cry at the same time. Be prepared for the unexpected! The book has been greeted enthusiastically by all who have seen it. John Wadhams, Executive Director of Wood Memorial Library, says this: “Reading Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehlers’ recent volume How Do I Hate Thee? I knew how Keats felt when he stayed up all night reading Chapman’s vigorous and earthy translation of Homer. For her part, Kincaid-Ehlers has transformed poems we all know well into astonishingly down-to-earth verse she imagines poets before her might have written if visited by Big Lymphoma — verse expressing her fury at the cancer that has attacked her. It would be too easy to call this book a collection of angry poems. The author finds comfort and inspiration in the art of the past, and finds solace in her rage, which has produced work as whimsical and restorative as ‘Cancer, Get Over It,’ in which she taunts: ‘You’re only one of Death’s accoutrements...a paltry piffle...Death will beat you C, you pitiful creep.’ Everyone should read these poems. They are Elizabeth’s best work.” And this praise from Humphrey Tonkin, President Emeritus of the University of Hartford and Professor of the Humanities: “When Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehlers was stricken with cancer, she conjured up a lifetime of reading and writing poetry to fight it. The result is this collection of new poems which, by turns ironic and defiant, take old words and old ways and put them to new uses, ultimately turning anger to affirmation, always in the shadowy and inspiring presence of poets from the past. These are remarkable poems.”

How Do I Hate Thee - cover
Cover Photo: Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehlers

Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehlers moved to Connecticut in 1979 to be Visiting Writer-in-Residence at Trinity College for one year. She came to like living in Connecticut so much during an extension of her contract that when it ended, she went back to school and retrained as a psychotherapist in order to stay in the state. During her years of additional studies, she taught at the Hartford branch of the University of Connecticut and participated in the state’s Writers-in-the-Schools Program. Elizabeth was born in Michigan and, after spending part of her growing-up years in Georgia, she went back north to earn her B.A. at the University of Michigan in 1955. Throughout the following years, because of her husband’s peregrinations, Elizabeth began many M.A. programs, only to have to abandon credits and move on. At last the family, which by then included two sons, stayed still long enough for her to earn an M.A. at the University of Illinois. After a move to Rochester, New York, and the birth of two more sons, the marriage ended. Elizabeth then went on to earn a Ph.D. at the University of Rochester in 1978. During all those years she continued to teach and write. Since the mid-1980s, Elizabeth has maintained a private practice as a psychotherapist, all the while writing, giving poetry readings, and occasionally teaching. Her oldest son and family remain in upstate New York, while the three other sons and their wives live in the Hartford area, along with her five, and counting, younger grand-children. For them she is constantly grateful. Furthermore, for love of them, she intends to stay put.

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ISBN 978-1-936482-08-5

Copyright © 2011 by Elizabeth Kincaid-Ehlers

6" x 9" paperback, 62 pages




Big Lymphoma

Whenever Big Lymphoma came to town
We missed his entrance, never noticed him.
Had we glimpsed him we'd have shot him down.
Instead we catered to his every whim.

Oh, he was so hidden, so discreet.
No one even heard him when he talked.
His true glory is to steal and cheat.
Damn, I wish he'd glittered when he walked.

And he is strong — yes, stronger than a king —
Kong, I mean, not one who's schooled in grace.
Truth is, we missed him, never noticing
The tip-offs, clues to help us make a case.

So we went on, and on, and on, and on.
And lost all taste for meat and even bread.
Let's hope that Big Lymphoma, come the dawn,
Comes out and puts a bullet through his head.


J.D., You Go and Catch a Star

J.D., you go and catch a star,
or make some tea from mandrake root.
I’m stuck chasing falling hair
and, frankly, do not give a hoot.
As for mermaids, you should see
the rash that’s blistering all of me.
Envy’s not the cause of stinging.
Go look
for what took
my mind and shredded my new book.

You want strange sights? Try purple bruises
where Rituxan drip infuses.
Lie back for interminable hours
while white hairs shed in crunchy showers.
Then help me haul my pole to pee,
and say how good I look to thee.
You’ll swear
you care
and I’ll stay this side of despair.

If you have hope, spare me some —
just don’t say you know I’ll be fine.
I’m not stupid — maybe numb —
I’ll never fall for the smiley face line.
Lymphoma’s a persistent foe,
knows just where it wants to go,
and fights
for its rights
all my days and all my nights.





who used to
write a sunshinepolished

and flaunt onetwothreefourfive rhymewordsjustlikethat
she was a blazing broad

and what i want to know is

how do you like your greeneyed girl

Mister C


Cancer Loves Me, This I Know

Cancer loves me! This I know
For the CAT Scan tells me so.
My gut cells to Him belong.
I am weak and He is strong.

Yes, Cancer loves me!
Yes, Cancer loves me!
Yes, Cancer loves me!
My CAT Scan tells me so.

Cancer loves me! This I know
As he loved so long ago.
Taking people on his knee
Saying “I’ll take them with me.”


Cancer loves me when I’m good
Taking treatment as I should.
Cancer loves me when I’m bad
’Cause He knows I can be had.


Cancer loves me! He won’t die
And he’ll never answer “Why?”
He will take his pick and choose
Who will win and who will lose


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