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    2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 9

    Categories: 2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, Poetry Prompts, Poets, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.

    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 Responses to 2012 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 9

    1. 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 says:

      (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. after he’s gone…
      morning fog
      outside my window

    4. foodpoet says:

      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.

    5. 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.

    6. 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.

    7. 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.

    8. shanitaja says:


      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.


    9. po says:

      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.

    10. 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.

    11. SharoninDallas says:

      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.

    12. 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?

    13. sonja j says:

      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!

    14. Glory says:

      “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.

    15. 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.

    16. Aftermath

      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.

    17. julie e. says:


      eating a bear claw
      toe by toe
      I’ll be sad
      when he’s

    18. when he’s gone
      the sun should blaze and flame
      going incognito
      like the repeated refrain
      of a country

    19. jared davidavich says:

      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


      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.

    21. 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.

    22. 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

    23. seingraham says:

      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 …

    24. 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.

    25. WHEN HE’S GONE

      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.

    26. PSC in CT says:

      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.

    27. shellaysm says:

      “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.

    28. Domino says:

      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

    29. DanielAri says:

      “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?!”

    30. elishevasmom says:

      egads!!!! smirk not smirch

    31. elishevasmom says:

      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

    32. viv says:


      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.

    33. julie e. says:


      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,

    34. claudsy says:

      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.

    35. RJ Clarken says:

      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.


    36. WHEN HE’S GONE

      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!

    37. Yolee says:

      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.

    38. Andy Brackett says:

      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.

      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.

    40. 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.

    41. Michael Grove says:


      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

    42. okay after all this time why do I have comments awaiting moderation?

    43. JRSimmang says:

      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…

    44. MeenaRose says:

      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.

    45. barbara_y says:

      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.

    46. posmic says:


      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.

    47. Rorybore says:

      “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.

    48. Mike Bayles says:

      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.

    49. Domino says:


      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

    50. RobHalpin says:


      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.

    51. Jane Shlensky says:

      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.”

    52. Mike Bayles says:

      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.

    53. 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.

    54. Jane Shlensky says:

      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.”

    55. Misky says:


      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.

    56. Marjory MT says:


      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.

    57. De Jackson says:




    58. Inaugural

      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

    59. Immigrants

      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?

    60. 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.

    61. Miss R. says:

      (a lune)

      It always happens
      When he’s gone:
      Somehow he’s still here.

    62. Maxie says:


      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.

    63. pmwanken says:

      (a shadorma)

      When he’s gone
      there’s an empty space
      In the room.
      While I wait
      for his return, he remains

    64. 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.

    65. 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.

      • julie e. says:

        Ack. i can’t bear to think about this…beautifully said!

      • Jane Shlensky says:

        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….

    66. Marianv says:


      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.

    67. Ber says:


      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

    68. 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

    69. PKP says:

      Be back later … Having an impossible time trying to post comments -

    70. PKP says:


      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

    71. 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.

    72. JWLaviguer says:

      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

    73. PKP says:

      The door shuts softly
      Outside a cardinal flies
      When he’s gone – silence

    74. PKP says:


      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

    75. Misky says:

      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.

    76. DAHutchison says:

      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.

    77. Maurie says:


      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.


      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.

    79. JOHN

      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!

    80. 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

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