Illustration by Kali Gregan

On “There were Two Unanswered Voice Mails from You”

Carlos Andrés Gómez

            Grief and regret are two of those ghosts that seem to frequently haunt my creative process.  More often than not, whenever I sit down to write, they will pull me far from where I want to go and inevitably towards where I need to.  And then, especially in those moments where I most resist them, I will somehow unexpectedly find myself caught in their orbit.  It is such a strange commitment we are asked to make as writers: attempting to capture in words the inherently unsayable.  This often-futile attempt to invent a completely new language each time we write. 

            That’s what the journey of this poem was for me.  I lost someone very dear to me suddenly in the fall of 2015.  And it was one of those things that stayed with me in an overwhelming and relentless way for a long time, but I felt like I couldn’t touch it with my art.  And the more time that passed without a language for what I was carrying in my body, the larger and more unmanageable it became.  And then one day, this poem emerged.  It seemed to arrive all at once, like rainfall or lightning. 

            It is my hope that it might shed some light and humanity on the complicated dimensions of those feelings we work so hard to keep buried.  That it might offer readers out there who may have lost someone by suicide an opportunity to find some grace and compassion in the wake of that unimaginable grief.   

"There were Two Unanswered Voice Mails from You" appears in NAR issue 302.2.

Carlos Andrés Gómez is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at Warren Wilson College.  Winner of the 2015 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize and a Pushcart Prize nominee, his work has appeared in Rattle, Beloit Poetry Journal, Painted Bride Quarterly, MUZZLE, and CHORUS: A Literary Mixtape (MTV Books, 2012), and elsewhere.  Carlos is the author of the memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood, released by Penguin Random House.  He appeared in HBO’s Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry and Spike Lee’s movie Inside Man with Denzel Washington.  He lives in New York City.  For more, please visit

Illustration by Kali Gregan. Kali Gregan is an illustrator based in Richmond, Virginia who finds inspiration in Cubism and collage.