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2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 9

First off, click here to go to the Day 9 thread in the forum if the blog comments are too crazy for you.

Today’s prompt comes from Sally Jadlow.

Here’s Sally’s prompt: Use the phrase “When he’s gone…” for your poem. The phrase can be in the title. It can be the opening line–or the closing line. It can show up somewhere in between. Just use it…somewhere.

Robert’s attempt at a When He’s Gone… Poem:

“Man in Rocking Chair”

When he’s gone, he don’t want nobody
to visit him who didn’t visit him
when he was here. In other words,
he don’t want a funeral service
for people to wail and moan and
check their watches. He sits alone
most nights, because he’s bitter
about everything. Suits him fine
enough. When he’s gone, he thinks,
there won’t be no one to miss him.


Thank you to Sally for the prompt! Click here to learn more about Sally Jadlow.

Also, most poets prefer to share comments directly to this post. However, if you’re having crazy issues, feel free to use the WD forum. Click here for the Day 9 thread.


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163 thoughts on “2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 9

  1. Karen H. Phillips

    Day 9
    Prompt: Use phrase “When he’s gone” somewhere, anywhere in the poem.

    Without Him

    When he’s gone
    who’ll make those tired trite jokes we’ve come to expect
    rolling our eyes and laughing with indulgence?

    When he’s gone
    who’ll flip through channels seeking “Everybody Loves Raymond”
    and scroll the guide for info on which episode he’s watching?

    When he’s gone
    who’ll watch Georgia replays and recall exactly what Larry Munson
    said when Herschel or Lindsay made UGA history?

    When he’s gone
    who’ll worry about the leaves getting raked or stopping up
    the gutters or making algae on the pool cover?

    When he’s gone
    who’ll tease us and make us feel endeared not ragged
    tossing out the one-liners not at expense of hurt feelings?

    When he’s gone,
    who’ll eat cereal in bed with the TV and light on
    when I’m trying to sleep, then snore beside me?

    When he’s gone–
    I don’t like to think of it.
    I’d rather go first than be without him.

  2. tunesmiff

    (c) 2012 – G. Smith
    She’s not sure what to do
    When he’s gone.
    Is it for good? Or just an hour or two?
    She’s not sure what to do.

    She knows she’s tired of feeling lonesome and blue,
    And she’s not sure how long this can go on.
    She’s not sure what to do,
    When he’s gone.

  3. foodpoet

    When he is gone

    My life is on hold
    I wonder what I will do
    Once he is gone

    I won’t be chauffeur
    Bottle washer, feeder
    For now my life is on hold.

    Family, absent now will gather
    To bicker over money.
    I wonder what I will do?

    Fight back or
    Turn away toward peace and pen.
    Once he is gone.

  4. Nancy Posey

    Better late than…you know.


    When he’s gone, she marks his absence by unfilled spaces,
    his slot in the carport nothing but a spot of grease,
    his chair sits cold, the indentations of his rump intact,
    his pillow lies waiting, his water glass waits empty,
    the silence throbs, and she thinks she hears the click
    of toenails of a dog long buried in the back yard,
    his ghost in the upstairs hall, pacing, wary. The moon
    plays peeping tom, one eye on their window,
    beams reaching across his side of the bed, lighting
    her hand resting there, saving the place for him.

    When she’s gone, he paces, rummages through the closet,
    the dryer, stands and stares into the pantry, gives up,
    calls and orders takeout. Every question justifies a call
    just to check, to ask how to work the remote, the timer
    on the oven, where she put the number he gave her to file.
    He rearranges the chairs, stacks and unstacks the books
    she keeps beside the bed, flipping through, reading
    the last pages of a couple. When she gone, he forgets
    to check the mail, leaves the papers piling up in the drive.
    He waters her flowers just before she’s due back home.

    When they’re home, they sometimes sit for hours, quiet,
    comfortably aware of the other’s presence, within reach.
    The silence is benevolent, asking for nothing from either
    but cozy companionship as they move through their days,
    like old dancers with the dance steps in their bones.
    When they’re home, bathed in lamplight, engaged
    in the call and response that is love’s language,
    as the house embraces them, as night caresses,
    they sometimes wonder why they ever left.

  5. Eleanore D. Trupkiewicz

    When He’s Gone

    When he’s gone, I sit
    staring after him, as
    if something in me
    wants him to come
    walking back to me,
    across the bridge,
    like that ethereal,
    heartbreaking, lovely
    scene in Pride and
    Prejudice when Mr.
    Darcy returns at last
    for Elizabeth. This—
    this kind of tortured
    thinking—is why I
    still see a therapist
    over him, because
    if I were thinking
    clearly, I know that
    I know that I would
    never want him back,
    not after what we
    shared together, most
    of which was heart-
    breaking and unlovely.

  6. Sally Jadlow

    When He’s Gone

    I’ll wipe the computer free of porn,
    burn his little black book
    hidden under the seat of his truck,
    and collapse his Face Book account.

    When silent voices call
    I’ll tell them he’s dead.
    Tell them to find a new lover.
    Wish them well
    in a quick moment
    before I hear a click.

    Take flowers to his grave on Memorial Day
    and remember to forget the past.

    This poem is NOT autobiographical; just the observances of my job as a Chaplain. I am so impressed with the quality of poems to my prompt. Thank you everyone for your excellent sharing.

    Sorry I didn’t respond sooner. I’ve been helping to host the Heart of America Christian Writers Conference here in Kansas City for the past three days.

  7. shanitaja


    Found out
    Being left alone is no fun
    As I waited to hear
    The drag of his feet
    His strong heart beat
    Him opening, closing the refrigerator door;

    His strong, masculine voice
    As it traveled throughout the house
    And I waited, longed
    To reach down and hold his hand.
    Found out, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be
    When he’s gone…away from the house.


  8. po

    When He’s Gone

    Guess what?
    He’s gone.

    When he’s gone
    we jump on
    the cabinets.
    Go places we’re
    never allowed.
    We scratch every
    place with a solemn
    aplomb. Then run
    from the basement

    When he returns
    we’re fast asleep
    in our kitty condo
    with one eye
    always slit to see
    when he’s gone.

  9. Dan Collins

    When he’s gone, I’ll have no friend in Rome.

Priscus, my friend, we shall see 

    which one of us will survive. 

    Whether it’s you or it’s me 

    only one will be left alive.

    Which one of us will survive?

    Titus has chosen our names. 

    Only one will be left alive

    We fight in the opening games.

    Titus has chosen our names. 

    Verus, remember your brother? 

    We fight in the opening games 

    as we did in the quarry together.

    Verus, remember your brother? 

    The gods are unhappy I’m told. 

    As we did in the quarry together 

    We must fight as only the bold.

    The gods are unhappy I’m told: 

    It’s Titus they wish to blame.

    We must fight as only the bold,

    though gashes may make us lame.

    It’s Titus they wish to blame.

    Vespasian we cannot exhume.

    Though gashes may make us lame,

    Pompei is encased like a tomb.

    Vespasian we cannot exhume.

    The Emperor’s luck we must turn.

    With Pompei is encased like a tomb,

    Rome slowly heals from its burns.

    The Emperor’s luck we must turn.

    Neither one, by honor can yield.

    Rome slowly heals from its burns.

    We’ll fight even without a shield.

    Neither one, by honor can yield.

    Blades broken, then it’s hand to hand.

    We’ll fight even without a shield.

    We’ll spill out our blood in the sand.

    Blades broken, then it’s hand to hand,

    until Titus sends two swords of wood.

    We’ll spill out our blood in the sand.

    Rome will honor what we’ve withstood.

    Until Titus sends two swords of wood,

    Priscus, my friend, we shall see.

    If Rome honors what we’ve withstood,

    or whether it’s you or it’s me.

  10. SharoninDallas

    When He’s Gone
    Tomorrow the sun will rise,
    Just like every day.
    Coffee will perk,
    News heads will bobble,
    Workers will be on their way.
    Urchins will go to school,
    The current Congress will rule,
    Life for others will go on.
    But tomorrow he’ll be gone.
    It will be life alone.
    It will be life for one.

  11. andreabadgley

    When he’s gone
    will he be okay?
    Will he remember to sort lights from darks,
    to thaw poultry in the fridge,
    to floss his teeth?

    When he’s gone,
    will he decorate his place?
    I wonder if it will be light or dark,
    if he’ll hang photos or paintings,
    if he will have a fireplace.

    When he’s gone,
    what will his work be?
    Will he eat anything but cereal?
    I hope he exercises.
    I hope he will laugh a lot.

    When he’s gone,
    will he miss me?

  12. sonja j

    Food Security

    Never mind Whole Foods,
    there’s nothing so comforting
    as a stocked root cellar. He
    goes down sometimes just
    to count the harvest, to see
    if it will take him through to
    the hungry month. He checks
    the rat traps, because food
    is food, and they want it too.
    Bins of potatoes line the cool
    floor, boilers, bakers, mashers.
    Cabbages are confounded
    upside-down in bushel baskets,
    wrapped in layers of scarcer
    and scarcer newspaper – soup
    in February, coleslaw for now.
    The carrots sleep layered
    in sand. Squashes huddle,
    warmer on the high shelves.
    Pumpkins and acorn squash
    are sweet now, but go bland,
    so he’ll eat those first. When
    he’s gone through the pepos,
    he’ll hit the buttercups, trying
    for all they’re worth to be sweet
    potatoes. The smooth, buff
    butternuts will last well into
    the summer.

    Sorry so late; the posting gremlins were bedeviling me!

  13. Glory

    “When he’s gone…”
    (Day 9)

    Funny how each day dawns
    through a mist of fog,
    dies when daylight disappears.

    Funny how each moment
    drifts as if there is no tomorrow
    just days full of nothingness.

    Funny, how all the world
    is void of love, yet I live on
    in this empty space
    waiting – when he’s gone.

  14. Linda Hatton

    Oops. Long day and I almost forgot to post my poem here.

    When He’s Gone

    When he’s gone, I’ll wonder
    why he said that, but not the other,
    the space inside my heart can’t endure
    another hostage. He’ll pack me
    in a suitcase, slip it under his arm, easy
    as a sidecar, foot-steps owning
    the ground they walk on, stepping
    all over the diamonds
    in my eyes. When he’s gone,
    the madness inside will be
    set free. If only he could be
    gone without me.

  15. Bruce Niedt


    When she’s gone
    we will come outside again
    and find our world thrashed and splintered.

    When she’s gone
    we will come down from higher ground
    and find new lakes and rivers.

    When she’s gone
    we will live without conveniences
    for days or weeks, millions unconnected.

    When she’s gone
    we will restring the wires
    cut up the fallen trees.

    When she’s gone
    we will pump out the basements
    collect whatever can be saved.

    When she’s gone
    we will hug and cry with our neighbors
    sad for our losses, glad for our lives.

    When she’s gone
    we will retire her name
    and we will recover.

  16. jared davidavich

    Man v Machine

    They will gather
    When he’s gone,
    No longer able to keep pace
    With the away of things

    They will gather
    At a brief service
    Held for those left behind
    To discuss how to move on

    They will gather to talk
    About his past, about their future,
    Trying to make the most
    Of this opportunity to improve

    They will gather,
    But not to mourn his loss;
    Rather that it did not happen

  17. Walt Wojtanik


    The house is empty
    where once we thrived.
    And when he was alive
    the house held love.
    The decline was gradual,
    but it seemed to happen
    in the blink of an eye.
    I try to imagine that place
    without our faces in it,
    but the task is daunting,
    he is haunting my nights.
    So many reminders find
    there way into my soul
    and I start to relive that
    life so distant, yet so close
    to my heart. But he had
    departed, the last bastion
    of our home left standing.
    Our anchor and beacon,
    a man to be admired.
    When he was gone we all
    suffered from his absence.
    He is truly missed.

  18. Sara McNulty

    Poetic Asides November Challenge – Day 9
    “When he’s gone”

    Life Without Him?

    How will I live
    my life when Dad is gone?
    Dwelled upon it; tried
    to not think about it,
    and, at one point
    farther back in time,
    I convinced myself
    that he could never
    be gone. And he never is.

  19. Benjamin Thomas

    Old Man Winter when He’s gone

    When he’s gone
    and the last flake
    takes a final breath
    slowly exhales that old man Winter
    loosening his death grip
    on a frozen mother earth

    When he’s gone
    all roots tingle and teem
    for they’re all happy it seems
    at another chance to dance

    When he’s gone
    and the weather is quite tamed
    all the sleeping beauties
    waken wiggle wash unashamed
    winking wiping their blurry eyes

    When he’s gone
    all the flaming buds whistle
    and all the living things chime in chorus
    humming with great green synergy
    displaying life’s hidden
    gem of potential energy
    announcing Spring’s illustrious
    dazzling song

    Yes, and only yes
    when that old man
    winter is gone

  20. seingraham

    When He’s Gone

    The house felt incomplete, the walls
    Wept, the breakfast nook was querulous
    But she knew he would be home soon
    After all, it was only kindergarten
    She mused over endless coffees
    Trying to remain calm, wondering
    At the foreboding that coloured her thoughts

    Eventually, she learned to cope, if not well
    At least in a way publicly passable
    And privately in a way that did not alarm
    Her boy – that was the hardest,
    Raising him to be the wonder she knew
    For which he had the potential while all the time
    Living in terror at the thought of his leaving

    Maybe it was their being alone that made her
    So paranoid, so worried all the time
    She refused to take it out and look at it
    Too closely – afraid if ever she did, she might
    See truths so untenable she would lock him up
    And throw away the key, and then what?
    She couldn’t bear going anywhere near that …

    By the time he was ready for university
    She had herself almost under control – truly –
    Was finally seeing someone about her issues
    Was even contemplating the idea of him going
    Away during the week to school as long
    As he came home on the weekend
    It looked like it was going to work out after all

    Oh but then came that fateful Tuesday morning
    A week before his classes were to start
    When those damned towers came down
    And before she knew quite what had happened
    Her boy came home dressed in a soldier’s uniform
    Deferring school, he said, until he’d done his duty

    In shock, she couldn’t tell him not to go
    She could barely tell him anything but that she loved
    Him so, so much – and then, he was gone
    Just like that – on a tour of duty to Iraq
    Or Iran or someplace in the middle east
    That had to do with the towers coming down

    Now, she sits alone in her darkened house
    A thick flag folded on her lap, heavy with irony
    Remembers that when he’s gone
    The house feel incomplete
    The walls are weeping again, but in the tangle of thoughts
    Seeping like poisonous sludge through her mind
    She senses, he won’t be coming home this time
    Knows the finality of not caring will take her this time
    Knows that when he’s gone …

  21. Jacqueline Hallenbeck

    When he’s gone… (is not in my vocabulary)

    He dies at 90 and me at 81…
    …that’s how it’s got to be.
    I cannot live without my man!
    He dies at 90 and me at 81…
    …and when our time is done,
    we’ll die spectacularly.
    He dies at 90 and me at 81…
    …that’s how it’s got to be.

  22. Kimiko Martinez


    When he’s gone,
    you’ll miss the smell of
    cologne he used

    too much of;
    the mess of his room
    and the socks

    on the floor.
    You’ll wonder if he’s eating
    or studying enough;

    if he’s using
    a condom or smoking too
    much cheap weed.

    When he’s gone,
    you’ll be glad he’s off
    exploring the world

    as young men
    eventually must, but wish he
    would call home

    once in awhile.

  23. PSC in CT

    When He’s Gone

    (everything runs like clockwork,
    days wax productive, progress
    persists, efficiency endures
    spawning more action,
    less distraction,
    fewer inter-
    more slowly,
    hours looming longer,
    singular smiles mooring
    nights filled with emptiness,
    music masking silence, then it must be)
    he’s gone.

  24. shellaysm

    “When He’s Gone” (a Tritina poem)

    Amid the sweetness of the early days, I worried I’d be too much
    An anxiousness followed each weekly exit
    When he was gone, beyond the clutch, fear he wouldn’t return

    Now, even in the midst of our chaos, I believe in his daily return
    Though often, yes, I still worry I’m too much
    When he goes, a contented peace seals each exit

    Someday, one of us will first make this life’s exit
    In faith and due time, the other will return
    Side-by-side again, we’ll be so much

    When he’s gone, I’ll reap the returns as much as treasure, promising to meet where exits don’t exist.

  25. Domino

    Second try today:

    When He’s Gone

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I’ll be able to get that dog
    I always wanted.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    The kids and I can just go out
    to McDonalds if we want.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I won’t need to go to sleep alone,
    wondering why he isn’t home yet.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I won’t have to put his dinner down the
    garbage disposal because he never came home at all.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I won’t be quailing in the living room
    while he rages in the hall, and is heading my way.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I won’t have to do terrifying (communications),
    (interventions), confrontations, when he disciplines the toddlers by
    holding them against the wall and screaming at them.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I won’t have to wonder where
    that long, blonde hair in the shower came from.

    When he’s gone, I think,
    I won’t have to make excuses for him
    at church, to my family, to my practically non-existent friends.

    And then one day,
    I got tired of thinking about him
    and I thought,
    I’m gone.

    And I left.

    Diana Terrill Clark

  26. DanielAri

    “Filling in”

    When he’s gone in a transport of pounding,
    my heart leaves the duties of his station
    to a substitute entity. He’s found
    several who can sustain circulation
    for a dozen pulses, or there around—

    the entire blood vessel network, for one.
    The heart’s in good hands as they coax the blood
    and soul en masse onward while he’s undone.
    Drums also stand in for my heart, their thud
    stoking and choking my fire with low sound.

    And sometimes an unpredictable flood
    drives my heart to grab a far-flung back up:
    an ear of corn, in husk; The Iliad;
    the thought of quartz; a chipped, China teacup;
    or an overripe fuyu persimmon.

    Nearly anything can work as a pump
    when my heart takes it and screams “Whassssup?!”

  27. elishevasmom

    When He’s Gone

    He has this way
    of sidling up behind
    you—you not noticing his arrival.
    That little smirch
    on his face, and just the

    touch of a wink.
    And already you are
    reeled in by
    the way any party lights
    up when he makes his

    appearance (as if he
    didn’t know that he
    could cast his spell
    from behind the curtain
    just as well.)

    But when he really turns
    on the charm, he
    can play the room
    like a Stradivarius. And as
    you long for him to

    look your way, he does.
    When his eyes catch yours—you
    cannot bear to pull away—he
    beguiles you with
    epic stories; you not

    noticing that his attention
    has already begun to wander.
    And just as you are ready
    to fly away with him
    among the stars

    you look over your
    shoulder and realize that
    he is gone.
    So you walk the beach
    awaiting his return—while

    working on a
    potion to capture him
    forever when
    sneaks up on you
    next month. Ellen Knight 11.9.12

  28. viv


    When he is gone
    I will become a slob –
    get up when I’m ready
    or maybe not at all;
    eat what I like
    when I’m hungry,
    otherwise not;
    take hours shopping
    reading all the labels;
    try on pretties
    without buying;
    turn the tv up
    loud enough
    to hear the dialogue;
    write more poetry in bed.

    The floor will stay clean
    and doors will stay shut;
    clothes will stay in cupboards
    until needed, not on chairs;
    dirty laundry will be in binS
    and not on floors.

    There will be no snapping
    and snarling
    when I shout the answers
    at the TV on Mastermind
    or don’t put enough salt
    in the potatoes.

    Hang on a minute.

    Firewood will not be chopped
    there’ll be no tea in bed
    each morning.
    There will be no dreadful puns
    to make me laugh;
    no comforting presence
    in the other armchair
    or behind the wheel;
    no-one to make me
    make an effort,
    if he were gone.

    I think I’ll hang on to him after all.

  29. julie e.


    I remember
    him in that hospital bed
    a fly caught in a spider’s web,
    eyes closed, limbs spread

    this man who raised me
    touched me wrong
    made my sister live in angry

    I remember
    him in that hospital bed
    a fly caught in a spider’s web,
    eyes closed, limbs spread

    this man who drank
    away his pain, his life,
    this man who told my sister
    “because I loved you.”

    I remember
    him in that hospital bed
    a fly caught in a spider’s web,
    eyes closed, limbs spread

    this man who taught
    me to draw cartoons,
    me wondering “how will I feel
    when he’s gone?”

    Just like I do now, I suppose,

  30. claudsy

    Without Definition

    He stands outside
    My circle now,
    Where once he
    Centered its sphere
    Of time and space,
    Part of the dream
    Maker of laughter
    And light, always
    The munchkin of Oz.

    Stronger bonds than
    Friendship could account,
    Than lovers could find,
    Than sibs ever know
    Within lifetimes spent
    Trailing stars and path
    Among Moon’s shadows,
    Between worlds explored,
    Always on my blind side.

    When he’s gone,
    Life no longer sparkles
    As richly, sun’s rays
    Do not reach into forests,
    And Moon paths remain
    Untrod by my feet as
    Once they danced among
    Worlds unseen by others,
    For he is gone, outside.

  31. RJ Clarken

    All He Wrote

    When he’s gone, left in his wake
    are little crumbs. He ate the cake
    we left for him. Wait! There’s a note:
    “Merry Christmas!” is all he wrote.

    On the mantle where stockings drape
    there’s gifts of every size and shape.
    We feel our spirits start to float:
    “Merry Christmas!” is all he wrote.

    And underneath our ornate tree
    are ribbons, bows and…hmmmm…let’s see…
    a joyful message (here I quote)
    “Merry Christmas!” is all he wrote.

    So, Santa’s sleigh’s now gone from here,
    just like it happens every year,
    that ride the reindeer know by rote…
    “Merry Christmas!” is all he wrote.


  32. Walt Wojtanik


    When he’s gone for five minutes, the children
    are still nestled snugly, visions of sugarplums dance
    and you’re still battling sleep. You keep warm and the year’s
    work is nearly completed; energy depleted and you rest,
    for morning comes quickly. Soon the bustle will be heard
    and the first words will resound,. “SANTA WAS HERE!”

    When he’s gone for eight hours, there is plenty of cheer,
    you ply yourselves with steaming coffee, and the children
    are excited. You’d be delighted if the screams that are heard
    were less piercing, and she’d get a chance to dance
    back to bed and complete her rest,
    but the best you can wish for is a sleep-in on New Year’s.

    When he’s gone for five years
    The cheer is still the same, but it is here
    where you notice the change. It’s strange that the rest
    of the time you go unnoticed, but the children
    are staring you down and your eyes dart and dance
    from side to side, hoping to hide their sparkle behind a beard

    so cheesy it is easy to spot you. When he’s gone, nothing is heard
    except for the strains of Bing singing , (has it been another year
    already?) Your steps are less steady when you dance
    her under the mistletoe to steal a kiss or two. It is here
    that you linger, a finger alongside of your nose. The children
    recognize this pose and can figure out the rest.

    When he’s gone for twenty years, you’ve become the guy for the rest
    of your life. Your wife can be heard
    snoring on the couch, and the children
    are feigning sleep, and you swear this year
    will be your last donning the suit. It’s a beauty, but here
    is when you realize you like its fit when you dance

    around the tree. You hear Jingle Bells in the distance
    and a hearty Ho-Ho-Ho above, and you know the rest
    of the story. You’ve impersonated him here
    for all these years and your suit and beard
    are a bit tattered from wear. He’s leaving you something this year;
    for you and your children, and your children’s children.

    It will make your children dance with delight.
    Tonight he gives you the suit, for this year and the rest of your days.
    And he is heard to proclaim here tonight, “You are Santa Claus”. Get it right!

  33. Yolee

    When He’s Gone

    I strip the bed down,
    use white linens with the tucked
    diamond patterns he loathes,
    that the singleness of days
    will not catch his scent.

    His absence shawls my
    dreams and drizzling thoughts
    the way the goose-feather
    comforter drapes my body.

    I make-believe dust, settled
    in his absence, will make a trail,
    and carry my scent that will drift
    to his hotel room, cajole
    him like freshly brewed
    coffee to wrap up work
    sooner than projected.

  34. Andy Brackett

    Now That He’s Gone

    Years ago I’d thought there time,
    To say the things upon my mind
    Who knew that I’d be proven wrong
    I’ll miss him so when he is gone.

    It’s hard to live so far apart
    When cancer deals it’s final card
    And doctors say you don’t have long
    I’ll miss him so when he is gone.

    I got the call one early morn,
    From my chest my heart was torn
    Mom told me then that Dad was gone.
    And from that day I’ve felt alone

    I miss him still, every single day
    And talk to him when ever I pray.
    I miss him so, now that he’s gone
    I miss him so, now that he’s gone.

  35. taylor graham

    a dizain, for Cowboy

    When he’s gone, I’ll still hike the rock creek down
    past a grassy meadow fringed by ghost-pine –
    scrubby greenstone landscape, a bedrock crown –
    to just above the bridge where columbine
    holds scent of summer like a trace design.
    He’d read it to discover what had gone
    this way – a stranger passing; doe with fawn.
    I’d try to read his sunstone eyes, his gaze
    of distances and breeze, of noon and dawn,
    those gems more lasting than our wander-days.

  36. bluerabbit47

    When he’s gone,
    she misses him,
    sometimes stepping
    into the room
    where he works
    to share something
    she has found
    like a child taking
    a toy to a visitor,
    remembering with
    a start that he is
    off on another trip
    she slips back into
    her own routine,
    reading on the couch
    and taking long
    walks alone by
    the river. When the
    phone rings, his
    car pulls into the drive,
    or he appears at
    the arrival gate,
    his face is always
    new, and everything
    they have shared
    comes home.

  37. Michael Grove


    When she’s gone
    they will miss her
    bright light and song,
    her beautiful eyes,
    her cheery disposition,
    and they will cast blame.

    When he’s gone
    they will miss his knowledge,
    creativity and generosity.
    They will mourn, yet
    they will speculate
    and pass false judgment.

    By Michael Grove

  38. JRSimmang

    At Night

    when the curtains are drawn,
    when the lights are out,
    when the car is in the driveway,
    when the cats and dogs and
    sleepy musings are shut away in their
    comfortable beds,
    is when she realizes that her night has just begun.

    He had a tendency to stick his lips to anothers,
    so long as that other’s name was Beam or Jack.
    An affair of a different kind,
    one that was loveless and likeless,
    stiff and burning.
    You can’t fit a woman into a shot glass,
    but you can fit a man into one,
    and he’ll gurgle and spurt and drown.

    The bar was usually three blocks down.
    That’s how he moved houses.
    He would walk, quarter after two, when the
    bars finally hit the lights and become
    nothing more than the shadow-keepers
    of the mourning.
    He would stumble first.
    He would sit on the curb and gather his strength.
    He would need it tonight.

    She never stayed up.
    He would asker her about it and that
    was one conversation she wouldn’t be having again,
    not since the 6th of September.

    The keys.
    She heard the keys first,
    then the door,
    then the covers she would clutch tight to her ears and
    It would come in waves, mostly,
    and would never end in contentment.
    Her body would stay in the bed,
    her mind would be elsewhere
    with some other man.
    It made it okay.
    It made it okay because one day,
    when he’s gone…

  39. MeenaRose

    Stone Tears
    By: Meena Rose

    I still remember
    A moonlit night,
    A smooth stone bench
    In a cozy corner of
    McGill campus.

    He sat down on that
    Bench beside me;
    His back to mine
    As he leaned back
    Quietly taking in

    The tears and running mascara;
    My shoulders, a shuddering mess,
    As I wordlessly wept my
    Shame gathering myself in a
    Shawl that was suddenly too

    Warm for a hot summer’s night.
    Through blurred eyes I saw his smile
    And willed myself to hear the words
    Whispered from his lips;
    Those tender eyes flashed with

    Anger when he noticed my bruised
    Shoulders – battered two days prior.
    I wore no mask nor forced smile –
    That night I was given space to be
    Human, frail and vulnerable.

    From that night forth, he always
    Watched over me – always had my back;
    I never for once thought how it would
    Be when he’s gone – my sentry, my guardian,
    My angel on Earth.

    The next day, under Sun’s benevolent light,
    He gifted me a drawing – me on that bench
    In the moonlight, happy and carefree. He
    Said that is the only way he sees me.
    He is gone now – killed by a drunk driver.

  40. barbara_y

    Twice every year
    the doors are opened, wide, 
    and a public tour
    joins in the Hall by the Information Desk. Visitors
    in shorts (or overcoats) and New Employees (wearing 
    the mandated Sober Black), assemble 
    beneath what’s called
    Still Life With Empty Chair, and some Member
    of the Board tells the story–
    as if it were a lie–of course, of the day the Founder
    climbed out of his frame. After he pretends
    to wonder why, and where the man could be,
    the Boardmember leaves. 
    And twice every year, when he’s gone, 
    and the brassy elevator doors have closed behind
    his importance, a little man with mustard stains on his shirt
    leaves the tour, straightens a very silly tie,
    and from the corner of the desk, climbs
    back into the frame.

  41. posmic


    When he’s gone,
    there is a moment when
    his shadow registers as
    its own kind of presence,
    a hole in the shape of him.

    When she’s gone,
    she’s just gone.
    Gone, baby, gone,
    instant as a vapor.

    Funny how two people
    can have such different
    ways of disappearing.
    It’s as if they’re in two
    Entirely different states
    of matter.

  42. Rorybore

    “Drifting Hope”

    hope stirred, though lately lost
    whilst stormy seas still raged
    it raised its head
    from the murky depths
    and drank the foam
    of the deep blue sea
    Suspended – it floated
    like so much jetsam
    weeping for the love to set it free.
    And I, swept away
    by salty spray and tears
    Tossed – wildly asunder
    like flotsam that will not bear
    the weight of my grief
    a distant horizon slowly sinking:
    there is no safe harbour
    when he is gone.

  43. Mike Bayles

    She Leaves a Poem Behind

    She meets with a group of scholars
    and discusses her latest concept
    comprised of nature and art.
    She gives a slide show
    about creations made,
    the bush carved into a human head.
    She speaks with great passion
    of nature’s art
    of old cups made into a table,
    and about the power of creation
    that makes each of divine.
    I greet this long-lost friend
    with a smile and a hug
    and recall memories
    before she leaves,
    and in my heart,
    she leaves a poem behind.

  44. Domino


    Where does he go when he’s gone?
    My imagination wanders.
    He knows I hate being alone
    What does he do when he’s gone?
    He’s like this, I should have known
    And really, I couldn’t be fonder.
    But, where does he go when he’s gone?
    My imagination wanders.

    Diana Terrill Clark

  45. RobHalpin


    Ain’t no sunshine when he’s gone,
    (but that would be like stealing
    and cliche to say the least).
    Yet without him, we’ve no dawn,
    no light from his free wheeling
    across the sky. Life decreased-
    poetry and warmth withdrawn,
    a loss of dance and healing.
    When he’s gone, we’ll surely cease.

  46. Jane Shlensky

    Ain’t No Sunshine

    “Oh, boy,” she says, mixing the batter
    for pancakes, the sausages sizzling,
    the coffee perking in her mama’s pot
    that’s so worn it’s barely metal.

    She keeps it for the sound, she says,
    the perk of a comforting morning.
    But he’s in his wing chair hunkered
    over his guitar, his face blank as rain,
    going strum, hum, strum hum,
    Strum, huuuuuummmmmm.

    His voice is like buttered rum, oiled
    and warm as fever, just enough gravel
    in his bass notes to scratch at her heart.
    “Oh, Lord, that man,” she says to no one
    but the lord hears everything in our hearts.
    She knows this sure as she knows
    the temperature of oil before batter
    is tipped in, sure as she knows the hiss
    and blister and browning of the cakes.

    He is having one of his days,
    didn’t take a genius to see that.
    He could be as tough and solid
    as anything standing for months on end,
    but when the blues came, he didn’t fight,
    just curled up with his guitar like a dog
    and licked at the edges of his pain.

    He’s singing his own song and she knows it,
    her heart clutching at his words, wishing
    she could mother his sorrow away,
    bring his loves back from the dead,
    resurrect his hopes, and praise his efforts,
    but she just imagines the empty hole
    he’ll leave for her when he’s gone, and
    now she’s creating her own hum and scrape.
    She turns to Jesus kneeling on the wall
    and whispers, “Dear Lord, that man there…
    we best put some blueberries in these cakes.”

    1. Casey

      Oh, Jane, this is so masterfully written! My guitar playing son and I assume you must have been in the room, looking over our shoulder as you wrote. May I have your permission to send a copy to my son?

  47. Mike Bayles

    She Leaves a Poem Behind

    She meets with a group of scholars
    and discusses her latest creative project
    comprised of nature and art.
    She gives a slide show
    about creations made,
    bushes carved into a human head.
    She speaks with great passion
    of nature’s art
    of old cups made into a table,
    and about the power of creation
    that makes each of us divine.
    I greet this long-lost friend
    with a smile and a hug
    and recall memories
    before she leaves,
    and in my heart,
    she leaves a poem behind.

  48. Michele Brenton

    When he’s gone.
    I turn the music up loud and dance for half an hour,
    Then prepare party food
    Then watch a film or two
    Then eat ALL the party food.
    Then sleep for a couple of hours
    Then maybe stare at the wall thinking
    Then go on the internet and waste the rest of the afternoon
    playing games and gossiping with my virtual pals.
    Then I rush around for half an hour tidying up
    Then he gets home.
    Well that’s what he thinks happens when he’s gone.

    Michele Brenton.

  49. Jane Shlensky

    Good prompt, Sally! Good poeming, friends!

    With the Wind

    The newsman and his cameraman
    stumble through the wreckage
    of a neighborhood’s life, not
    a single dwelling standing
    on the once-sturdy foundations.

    One man shakes his head
    as his wife weeps nearby, holding pictures.
    “Fucking sand”, he says to them,
    knowing they can’t air that.
    “You can’t trust fucking sand
    not to sell out when the waves come.”

    “You think you build a life,” he says
    in heavily accented English,
    “but when he’s gone, that’s it!”
    His wife leans in and interjects,
    “We still have our lives and
    we’re grateful for that,”
    but her husband walks away
    saying, “yeah, yeah, yeah.”

    People all along the way
    mince through the detritus
    of their lives, valuables suddenly
    rendered useless, broken,
    imagining saving this thing or that
    to watch it mold in a new location.
    Picking up and putting down.

    In a homeless cold wind, the news crew
    looks among the storm’s leavings
    for an unusual human interest story,
    some hope for continuation among
    the weeping, the broken, the up-ended.
    When they hear laughter, they follow it
    to a man pointing hundreds of yards away.
    “Found it!” he shouts, delighted to
    have located the roof of his house.

    “I just reroofed this year,” he says.
    “Look at this! Those guys did
    a good job—you can tell it didn’t leak.
    It just didn’t stay on the house!”
    He laughs some more. When asked
    what he has lost, he says straight into
    the camera, “I haven’t lost a thing.
    It’s all right here somewhere, mixed
    up with everybody else’s.”

    Marking the progress of his neighbor,
    he says, “I found a sense of humor
    over there under some boards.
    Lightly used. Looks like he needs it
    worse than I do. When that’s gone,
    there’s no fun left in survival.”

  50. Misky


    When he’s gone,
    it will all be soup,
    leeks and stale bread,
    beet roots and dried grass,
    bits of green potatoes,
    the eyes plucked and tucked
    under plates so they can’t see
    what happens to us
    when he’s gone.

  51. Marjory MT


    When he is gone
    thoughts will linger
    as days grow long.
    When he is gone
    I’ll listen for that song
    and remember
    a soft breeze at dawn.
    When he is gone
    thoughts will linger.

  52. De Jackson




  53. Andrew Kreider


    you hold your breath
    as crowds assemble
    on the mall
    the poets and the judges
    with the preachers
    all arrayed in overcoats
    against the January chill.

    you wait throughout
    the ceremonies
    all the handshakes
    oaths and invocations
    urging on the
    awkward silences

    you do not move
    until you see for sure
    the helicopter rise
    and circle one last time

    and when he’s gone
    when you are
    absolutely sure
    that it is true
    you raise your head
    and breathe at last

    fully aware that
    when your man
    has won there’s
    no one left to

  54. Linda Rhinehart Neas


    The old woman dusts the photo with the hem of her skirt –
    this is all she has left – moments in time, captured.
    Off to a better world, they went – bright-eyed with possibility,
    so eager to make a new beginning – a new life.
    How was she to know the emptiness that would descend
    once the ship set sail with its precious cargo?
    How was she to know that once they were gone,
    she would disappear into the yesterdays of the old?
    How was she to know that her one vice would turn out to be
    hording any and all communications randomly sent?
    Holding the picture close – examining each line, each shape –
    How was she to know?

  55. Linda Rhinehart Neas

    Oh, my! This prompt has inspired such wonderful poems, everyone who has posted thus far has left us such juicy morsels of verse! Thank you, Sally, for the inspiration! Well done, everyone, I have a lump in my throat that started with Robert’s poem and has just gotten bigger as I read.

  56. Maxie


    Only now, when he’s gone
    do I assess the damage we’d wrought,
    the inroads we’d made at seducing our hearts,
    how we weakened our resolves against our own advances
    and accustomed our dances around the truth.

    Only now, when he’s gone
    can I see the path we walked toward,
    the charmed camouflage we chose to cover our filthy robes,
    how we weakened our resolves against the foe’s advances
    and danced disillusioned circles around the truth.

    Only now, when he’s gone
    do I feel the weight I hefted on his shoulders,
    the love I didn’t deserve crash around me like tidal waves,
    how hollow and incomplete my weak resolve now advances
    and how empty it feels to dance alone in the truth.

  57. Michelle Hed

    Time Never Stands Still (a poem within a poem)

    We thought we would have years
    filled with laughter and tears
    learning your secrets and quirks
    plans were in the works
    motion, only to be taken away
    interrupted, held at bay
    telling us what to do when he’s gone
    to carry on alone each dawn
    swamped by the fears of the unknown
    just me, you’re gone.

  58. Marie Elena

    When He’s Gone

    She goes without
    So he can have.
    He curls up beside her,
    Keeping her warm through the night.
    Her only friend Is aging.
    As they take their morning walk,
    She wonders how long her companion
    At the end of the leash
    Has left.

    1. Jane Shlensky

      Oh, man. That dread is leashed to the joy they bring, isn’t it? Nicely done, Marie, and the papa poem too. I couldn’t get the comment to post. And although this is uncool, Walt, I wanted to comment on your John and When She Leaves as well. Both were touching and effective. Now let’s see how many tries this will take….

  59. Marianv


    When he’s gone, I clean the house
    Thoroughly, reaching into every corner
    (He hates the noise the vacuum makes)
    I take the covers from the chairs
    And his worn old blanket from the couch
    Toss them in the washer, then dry them
    On the line – he likes the way it makes them smell.
    I’m carefull with his bookshelves, some volumes
    Are old and frail – a bit like us, I like to think
    And his desk top, the computer screen and
    Little specks of lint that don’t belong…

    The truth is that he doesn’t use it very much
    Most of his days he spends lying on the couch
    Watching TV or mostly DVD’s, reminding me
    Of those happy times when trouble didn’t lurk
    Usually I have to wake him when its time for bed…
    His sleep is restless, often he’ll wake crying out
    For something that I can’t understand Some
    Times he thinks that I’m his mother or some
    Other name I don’t recognize. I just play along.

    When he’s gone, it’s usually for just a couple days.
    The Hospice people call it “Respite care.”
    This afternoon, I’ll drive over and bring
    Him home again.
    The house is so empty when he isn’t here.

  60. Ber


    Where hes gone
    we did not know
    phone calls and searches
    nothing nothing did show

    We tried all the avenues
    all the resourses
    available to us
    we needed somthing
    we needed a crutch

    Looking for you
    not know where you were
    was so heart breaking
    not knowing whether or not you
    had been taking

    Living in that country
    beautfy everywhere
    but the stories the walls hold
    they surely would scare

    Page set up to find you
    hoping for clues
    searches never ending
    when one day a new

    Message with a contact
    a number was there
    from a wonderful man
    whos help was so rare

    I rang the number
    your voice on the other side
    angry excited and hurt
    was the pain inside

    Glad to know that you were okay now
    hearing your voice was golden
    after all that time had been stolen
    smiling now it never stops
    knowing that your alive and well
    makes my heart beat pop

    Wrap my arms around
    when we will meet
    until then a brother so dear
    a brother so sweet

  61. JW Laviguer

    the Blog Gremlin

    When he’s gone
    we will post in peace
    and live without frustration
    for his game is getting old
    but we refuse to allow him
    to affect the creativity
    of the wonderful souls
    who reside here.

    Note from author: he really didn’t like me writing this, as he was fighting the whole way

  62. PKP


    He’ll leave a mess
    Couches, carpets and such
    Instead of socks and wet towels
    And the women will sigh
    And bend to tend
    Finally smiling
    In simple relief
    At the rainbowed end of
    This rabid foaming rant
    When he’s gone

  63. Marie Elena

    When He’s Gone

    Dad has cheated life
    three times.
    Perhaps hundreds more.
    “God must have more for me to do.”

    Yes, Dad. How right you are –
    More love to give
    More guidance to offer
    More music to make
    More prayers to pray.

    My kids refuse to think of life
    Without Grandpop.
    My heart is beyond grateful
    That you cheated life three times
    Perhaps millions more.

  64. JWLaviguer

    A Cry to No One

    When he’s gone
    she picks herself up
    and sweeps up the pieces
    of her shattered life

    When he’s gone
    she tells herself
    it was her fault
    and believes it

    When he’s gone
    she covers the bruises
    with makeup and lies
    and forgives him again

    But when he’s there
    she lives in fear
    and tries to hide
    from the monster within

    1. Walt Wojtanik

      Tender and sweet. The cardinal reference blows me away. There’s an incredible story I’ve told our resident cardinal keeper (Laurie Kolp) about when both of my parents had passed and the appearance of the cardinals as almost a harbinger of their peace. Thank you for this reminder and know my thoughts are with you.

  65. PKP


    When he’s gone
    I’ll take that trip to
    Sit under that sun
    Face turned up
    Sweet wine
    Rolling on my tongue
    When he’s gone
    I’ll tear a chunk of
    Crisp warm bread
    And try to swallow
    Even a single crumb
    As sunlight cools
    Wine meets vinegar
    And I veined
    Hands rising to
    Fauceted eyes
    Try to remember
    How I thought it
    Would be
    Flooded with
    How it now is
    When he is gone

    1. Jane Shlensky

      Pearlie, this bread chokes me too. I tell Volodya that if he dies first, I’ll need a world cruise to get me over him. We laugh, knowing the fun of that idea is in doing things together, not with a memory of what once was. This is well done.

  66. Misky

    Just Half

    When he’s gone
    I’m a half-full glass, not half-empty
    as I’m easily filled back up.
    When he’s gone
    I’m only half a tune, half a note,
    half a cord, a chorus in discord
    so I’ll sing half a song
    because that’s what I do
    when he’s gone.

  67. DAHutchison

    When He’s Gone

    When time has healed her wounds a bit, whenever that may be,
    I’ll sweep his lady off her heels, and surely she will see,
    We have so much in common for I loved her husband too,
    So much loss between us, so much left in life to do.

    I wrote him once in Kabul, felt relieved when he returned,
    I never wrote again though, once my passion for her burned,
    A secret locked inside my heart, a thing I can’t confess,
    For all in all, her love for him, I love about her best.

    I know she’ll always love him more, for first loves never die,
    His spine of steel, his gentle touch, she’ll always wonder why,
    But when he’s gone, I’ll wait for her and soon she’ll love me too.
    Accepting that I’m second best, for her, I’ll gladly do.

      1. DAHutchison

        Thanks, Marie. Though I’m sure the scenario plays out a lot these days, for me, thankfully, the only non-fiction part is having been an ‘also ran’ in a woman’s heart.

    1. Jane Shlensky

      Very well put together, DA. I think the form itself lends an understated pace to the theme of waiting in the poem. That last line just clinches it. Nice work.

  68. Maurie


    Walking starfish strewn beachs,
    hand in hand.
    Hiking steeply tilted wilderness trails,
    him covering my back.
    Biking beneath stately moss draped oaks,
    he leads the way.
    These jewels, tucked among precious
    memories, will remain
    when he’s gone.

  69. Walt Wojtanik


    When she leaves, she always checks to be sure
    that I’m OK. She’d say she was thinking about
    the time we drove for an hour scouring the countryside
    for a place to hide for an hour or so, and we would go
    on for half the day, walking, talking, taking the time
    to find comfort in each other like no other time before.
    There was this place way south of the city. It was
    a pretty serene scene. A spot beneath a crossing bridge,
    a dry stream bed with a trickle of its former self.
    A shelf of rocks and dried logs and bogs of reeds
    poking skyward, She would sit on a trunk of fallen
    majesty, and me? I would snap photos of her contemplation
    in my elation; a celebration of life. Before she was my wife.
    she had become the love of many lives. I can see it clearly
    and dearly miss that place. It puts a smile on my face.
    When she leaves, I believe she smiles as well. I can tell
    how much she has grown. I know she will return,
    When she leaves.

  70. Walt Wojtanik


    When he’s gone…

    The reality of his leaving
    will hit some hard, Others
    will not be fazed. It’s crazy
    to think that he’s been
    on the brink of death’s door
    for four years or more.
    Stomach cancer was not
    the answer. Not to mention
    dementia. Parkinson’s Disease
    is putting the squeeze of his once
    statuesque appearance.
    His disappearance has been long
    awaited. Fate can be a cruel
    executioner. When he’s gone
    some will mourn, some will scorn
    his selfishness for leaving.
    The cash cow is dead.
    Long live the king!

  71. Connie Peters

    When He’s Gone

    My time is not for me alone
    I am on call from dawn to dawn
    Relentlessly I care for him
    Yet, I will miss him when he’s gone

    Contributes little in this life
    His words are few, the day is long
    At times my patience wears so thin
    Yet, I will miss him when he’s gone

    His smile can warm the coldest heart
    His hugs and kisses can go on
    And his delight becomes my own
    Yes, I will miss him when he’s gone