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Cherie Burbach

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The Difference Now
by Cherie Burbach   

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Books by Cherie Burbach
· Father's Eyes
· At the Coffee Shop
                >> View all



Publisher:  iUniverse ISBN-10:  0595308600 Type: 


Copyright:  February 2004

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The Difference Now

The Difference Now speaks of the struggle for self-acceptance and the ability to let go of the past. Ultimately,it is about learning to make one's Town definitions instead of fitting into someone else's idea of what's acceptable. The Difference Now is about gaining the perspective that will allow you to look back over your life with contentment instead of regret. It's about overcoming all the thoughts and emotions you never thought you would, embracing independence, and realizing finally you are more than just the product of a turbulent childhood or a certain amount of success and failure. Despite its personal nature, The Difference Now is the embodiment of universal struggles, emotions, and fears. The poetry is honest and spiritual, and the words stay with you as you continue on your own life's journey.


The difference now
is when pushed
I push back.

The difference now
is when I’m hurt
I’ll cry
Why should I hide it?
Or pretend that I don’t care?
You know you hurt me.
My pretending only helped you,
not me.

The difference now
is that I’ll fight for the life
I want to live
and not the one
you think I should live.

The difference now
is that I make the definitions
and throw yours away.

The difference now
is when I walk in a room
and you guiltily look at each other
and stop talking
I’ll wonder who you’ll blame
for the problems in your life
after I move on.

The difference now
is that when you’re laughing
behind my back
I realize I must be ahead of you
and I’ll keep going.


You gave me a dress
but it was too small.
I looked at the label
and it said “unfeeling and

When I told you it didn’t quite fit
you suggested I lose weight.
I ate what you prepared
and when the dress you bought me
still didn’t fit,
I stopped eating.

Now the skirt slid over my hips
but I still felt uncomfortable.
I realized it was the wrong color
and style.

You said
since I was good
and lost weight
you’d buy me a new one.
But I couldn’t go with you
or make the choice myself.

You’d pick out my new clothes
and if I didn’t like them
I could go entirely without.

The new skirt’s label
said “lazy and stupid.”
I didn’t want to try it on
but you made me.

And I didn’t protest
I didn’t want to argue
or give you the impression
that I wasn’t a nice girl.

So I put on the new skirt.

It was short, and tight.
You said it looked good
that it fit me perfectly.
So I tried to be happy
and be what you wanted me to be.

You told me girls were quiet
they didn’t talk back.
So I held my tongue
even though I disagreed with you.
But then you told me I didn’t talk
that I was stupid and slow.

So I tried to show you I was smart.
I had a mind of my own.

But when I told you my dreams
you shoved me down.
You told me no one would ever want me
and I would always be alone.
And then you gave me a new skirt to

This skirt’s label read
“difficult and unlovable.”
I put on my new skirt
but cried softly in my room.
I wore that skirt for a long time
even when I had outgrown it
I still told myself that it fit.

Every once in a while
someone would ask
why I wore that skirt.
They would tell me it didn’t fit,
and I should get a new one.
But I didn’t want to upset you
so I chased them away
from my life.

But one day
I walked past a store window
and saw a beautiful blue skirt
long and flowing.
I walked in the store and tried it on.

“It looks good on you,”
the salesclerk said
as I spun around in front of the

I felt good, real, beautiful.

I read the label,
“passionate and honest.”
“It really is you,” the clerk said
And for the first time
I believed it.

“I’ll take it,” I said,
and handed her the money.
“In fact,” I said, “I’ll wear it out
of the store.”

I handed the clerk my old skirt
and told her I didn’t want it
As I walked out
I looked at the mirror one more time,
and smiled.

The difference now
is that when you’re laughing
behind my back
I realize I must be ahead of you
and I’ll keep going.

Professional Reviews

Shows being open to positive experiences and love
Reviewed by Linda Benninghoff for Reader Views (3/06)

"The Difference Now" by Cherie Burbach uses straightforward language and the rhythms of ordinary speech to convey its message in poems that are both powerful and accessible. This book of poetry's theme seems to be personal growth, a turning away from a childhood that may have been deprived and from boyfriends who reinforced a negative self-image. The poet forges a new, more confident identity. She develops the ability to talk back and fight back. She will express feelings rather than suppress them. She sees through the negative messages that were conveyed to her--she no longer internalizes them.

The first poem, which is also the title poem, announces the books message clearly.

The difference now
is when pushed
I push back.

The difference now
is when I'm hurt
I'll cry
Why should I hide it?
Or pretend that I don't care?
You knew you hurt me.
My pretending only helped you,
not me.

In these poems little extraneous imagery intrudes, but taken together their rhymes, rhythms, and the placement of words on the page build up a music of justified anger and sometimes harsh discoveries and independence. The poet will no longer be put down. The line breaks are carefully done and enhance the meaning of the poems.

As the book goes on, its theme expands to include more than just a message of self-actualization. A poem about an unnamed woman who is probably the poet's grandmother reveals depth of feeling.

Angel In Waiting

Sometimes she'd remember me
and be waiting at the door
arms folded
and frowning.
She'd tell me I was late
ask me where I'd been
I'd say it was 6:00
that I always came at 6:00
she'd shrug
then smile at the food I brought
already forgetting why she was angry.

I'd set the table
the good china from great grandma
the good silverware.

As the book goes on, the poet seems to become more open to positive experiences and love.

This book of poetry will be interesting to poetry lovers, particularly individuals who are in the process of learning to assert themselves and have had to cope with a difficult childhood, abusive parent, spouse or lover. The sense I get from reading the book is that by feeling the negative and expressing it, one can then make room for the good to emerge.

Heartfelt and Brave, Michele Cozzens

I read this book on a plane yesterday. It was a twenty-minute flight, and I completed it well before the wheels hit the ground. Even so, I read some of these wonderful and heartfelt poems more than once.

My favorite is the title poem, The Difference Now. It's bold and wise and champions maturity. I also liked If Life Were A Book, suggesting we do have the power to write our own life story. Yes, I agree that we do.

The most powerful and gripping section of the book consists of poems that focus on the author's late father, who I assume, committed suicide. The pain of the child left behind is apparent, but the sense of recovery is even more apparent. Your Life, My Lesson is especially well done. The weakest area, however, is a series of poems that come across as the revenge of a thwarted woman in an ill-fated love affair. The essence of yearning is, like one reviewer has indicated, reminiscent of a high school diary. I prefer the greater majority of poems that champion wisdom and breakthrough.

I think this book of primarily free verse poetry would make a great gift for a grieving friend. It follows a healing path and I enjoyed it very much.

From the author of I'm Living Your Dream Life and The Things I Wish I'd Said, McKenna Publishing Group.

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