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Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 193

Categories: Poetry Prompts, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.

Sorry for the late prompt this week. I was judging the haibun competition–and yes, I know who won. But that announcement will have to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s poem!

For this week’s prompt, write the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. Simple as that.

Here’s my attempt:

“Even now”

With the dull knife of memory
barely pressing the skin
like a dream almost forgotten
but still grows and changes
as a child trapped in a room
with no way out and no where
anyway to run

*****

Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer

 

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About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

202 Responses to Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 193

  1. Brony says:

    A Memory Poem

    I sit in the big comfy chair
    (the one by the window)
    The sun might be out
    but I see and hear the rain
    My mind is somewhere special
    My mind has gone to the memory place

    I can see us holding hands
    (we dance together in the rain)
    The wind is singing
    I can hear the whispers even now
    My mind is somewhere special
    My mind has gone to the memory place

    I wonder where you are now
    (in a comfy chair like me)
    when did time slip away
    I don’t remember letting your hand go
    If only I could sat somewhere special
    If only I could live in the memory place

  2. Juanita Lewison-Snyder says:

    Hey Mr. Gunman
    by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    A lot goes through your head when there’s a .38 pressed against it.

    Things like…is this minimum wage job really worth it?
    Was all that cramming’ for tomorrow’s history test
    really just a colossal waste of time now?
    Would I ever get the chance to apologize to my sister
    for the fight we had just before I left for work?

    Funny how a little brass casing can hit the
    big RESET button on priorities and belief systems,
    and suddenly wipe away years of decision making
    and absolute certainty. Suddenly, God doesn’t seem
    so far removed anymore. And does He still barter?

    And how ‘bout you, Mr. Gunman,
    what’s a 16 year old’s Life truly worth?

    © 2012 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  3. Bruce Niedt says:

    I’m stretching the parameters again here – I recently lost a close friend to cancer. It may not be the worst thing to ever happen to me, but for the moment it tops the list.

    Mixtape

    I know it’s a misnomer
    because no one uses tape anymore,
    but you would know what I mean.
    Like me, you still remembered cassettes,
    record players, VCRs and dial phones.

    Of course I meant a CD I burned
    with some of your favorite tunes
    by artists we grew up with –
    The Beatles, Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel.

    I tried to make it a tasteful mix –
    uplifting songs, reflective ones –
    “Bridge over Troubled Water”,
    “Here Comes the Sun”, that kind of thing,

    stuff I knew you liked. I hope it consoled
    your friends and family when I played it
    at the viewing, but what matters to me most
    is that I know you’d approve, that these
    are the songs we’d listen to on your deck
    on a summer evening, beers in hand,
    watching the last reds fade from the sky.

  4. tunesmiff says:

    I had a tough time with this one, as I hope the following will explain…

    g

    ——————————–
    PRETTY LUCKY
    G. Smith (BMI)
    —-–————————–
    Looking back over most of my years,
    I’ve had my share of sorrow amd tears,
    But I’ve not had to face the worst of my fears,
    I guess I’ve been pretty lucky.

    ‘Cause I’ve known folks who’s lives have been shaken,
    Had loved ones hurt or tragically taken,
    Their hearts so broken and then left forsaken;
    Yeah, I guess I’ve been pretty lucky.

    The glass, I guess, I see half-filled,
    “Poor, poor me,” I think until,
    I realize, through another’s eyes,
    I look pretty lucky.

    I’ve lost jobs, and family and friends,
    And I’ve lost love, but in the end,
    Looking back, I know I’ve been,
    Pretty dog-gone lucky,

    ‘Cause the worst things that’ve happened to me,
    Are the same kinds of sadnesses everyone sees;
    I guess it’s all a matter of degrees;
    And I’ve been pretty lucky.

    Yeah, the glass, I guess, I see half-filled,
    “Poor, poor me,” I think until,
    I realize, through another’s eyes,
    I look pretty lucky.

    Yeah, I look pretty lucky.
    I’ve been really lucky.

  5. PKP says:

    what can one say? why share the “worst things?” I am not quite sure – to rip what is at best after all these years, a diaphanous veil, exposing to the air – those closed away and shuttered mementoes visceral soul piercing mementos that flow like a running river or beat like a pulsing heart beneath our words? Why? Certainly not for the acknowledgment of the awe inspiring capacity of humans to not only survive but to thrive – to continue to love when denigrated and abused to continue to hope having had hope cruelly snatched away – to simply continue? Why write of this? Certainly not simply to “know” one another deeper and more authentically? All of the foregoing are possible reasons for this prompt and for the pain that pours through “The Street,” all the offered embrace and the naked exposure evident of the trust formed over time among those eho have shared their words… The worst thing has not happened to sny of us yet – the worst thing would be the absence of compassion and the lack of either ability or desire to respond to a fellow sufferer – the worst thing to have no words , thought, remembered, expressed, shared, or the searing secondary pain felt, followed by the passionate desire to ease the pain of another. We, in my humble opinion have not experienced the worst thing, the inhumanity of unrelenting indifference to self and for each other, It is a privilege to live and a promise of possibility to continue to feel and to hope for peace of mind for oneself and others on this “Street” and on the spinning blue often crying in pain marble which we share,

  6. The Worst Thing

    The worst thing
    Was not the fire,
    The weeks in the hospital,
    Or the scars left behind.
    The worst thing
    Was not the secret
    I was forced to keep,
    The time spent without
    The most basic necessities,
    Or the bullying taunts
    About out of date clothes
    That reeked of kerosene.
    The worst thing
    Was not the betrayal of trust,
    The bruises on body and soul,
    The pain twisting through my life,
    Or the loss of my independence.

    The worst thing that ever happened to me…
    I stopped believing in myself.

  7. I should write something new, but I think it’s already been said in “Put out” and “After burn.”

    Thanks to Marie Elena for pulling “Put out” out of the woodwork … so to speak. So these are recycled.

    AFTER BURN
    There is nothing left here,
    just the shambles
    of our past life together

    heaps of blackened pictures and
    memories of a
    past that’s better off forgotten.

    We paint each other’s faces
    with the soot
    and no longer recognize ourselves.

    PUT OUT
    She breathes fire
    the smell of singed wood
    the subtle soot
    sitting on happy words

    It lingers
    in the corner of her eyes
    an insatiable heat
    burning into her thoughts

    The burdens
    The book
    The smiles
    The love

    Lost

    You could see
    in the corner of her smile
    a wet sigh
    extinguishing the fire in her soul

    carried in the flames of her laugh

  8. DanielAri says:

    Twisted ankle

    Clearly, I will need to change plans tonight—
    and how far out in the future?
    Cancel weekend getaway?
    Drop out of improv troupe?
    Invest in titanium bones?
    I try to catch my breath.

    You know that experience when you’re in pain
    and you can remember just minutes before
    when you were not, and time just
    went its way with you—then here is this:
    a demarcation coming so clear, wondrous,
    strange fault line between just then and here now.

    I sit cringing behind a running car
    with the curb’s urine scent and rotate this
    in tiny, dented circles and try to catch my breath.
    The sidewalk is a blessing to us sitting dizzy,
    and to me it’s a blessing that I know how to sit
    and face the truth of this moment. Injured.

    Outside a café, I press ice around this and
    try to catch my breath and catch it again.
    Minutes ago, I was having a walk.
    Now I can’t figure how much is wrecked.
    Guzzle the soda water I bought,
    watch the minutes go, wonder when I’ll be missed.

  9. Ber says:

    Missing you

    Standing in the room
    as silence filled the air
    news that you were gone
    left me in despair

    As the smile that i once had
    moved the forms of my face
    everything that used to matter
    your life could not be replaced

    You were my gentle giant
    i stood on your feet
    you would walk me across the room
    with pain that made you grit your teeth

    I no linger hear your voice
    the void in our family is there
    for a brother who is gone
    but always loved to dear

    As your anniversary approaches
    we light a candle as we remember you
    our prayers and thoughts surround
    or memories of the things we used to do.

    We love you with all our heart
    our tears tare our face so worn
    heartache fills our hearts
    But our love will never depart

  10. Chuwchew123 says:

    Mask

    Made of ceramic
    Unfaltering
    Even with tears
    Shattering the paint.

    I cry for help,
    Help to stand,
    Help to make me whole.

    I’m scared I’ll lose you,
    To the lifelong battle,
    A battle that has taken many before you.

    You don’t know my pain,
    I hide it,
    You have enough to deal with.

    My insides are crumpling piece by piece,
    You have no idea,
    The battle within rages on,
    Our own battles we fight.

    I fight to be perfect,
    To be what you want,
    You fight for your life,
    To be there for me.

    No one knows our pain,
    No one knows our stories,
    We’re together in reality,
    But in different galaxy’s in our minds.

    The cancer came back,
    You fight and fight,
    To stay alive,
    I fight to keep my mask.

    We try to be strong for each other,
    But it crumples the walls around us.
    I love you,
    I do,
    But I’m becoming too distant.

  11. Susan Budig says:

    September 22, 1983

    I wasn’t going to write my story
    The tale is gruesome, but so are others
    Sometimes it seems too simply gory
    His hand grew larger as it tried to smother

    The tale is gruesome, but so are others
    His body, a steel plank, on top of mine
    His hand grew larger as it tried to smother
    He drove himself up toward my spine

    His body, a steel plank, on top of mine
    I prayed Hail Mary as his fingers gripped
    He drove himself up toward my spine
    With a cry to sweet Jesus, the scales then tipped
    I
    prayed Hail Mary as his fingers gripped
    A man I loved did a Jekyll and Hyde
    With a cry to sweet Jesus, the scales then tipped
    Now a chasm betwixt, the great divide

    A man I loved did a Jekyll and Hyde
    Sometimes it seems too simply gory
    Now a chasm betwixt, the great divide
    I wasn’t going to write my story

  12. cstewart says:

    Violence
    (two you’s)

    I thought that the pain of leaving you,
    Would have been the worst thing.

    But I was wrong.
    It came like another nightmare –

    My right arm numbed like ice,
    Ripped from a winter river.
    The unthinkable, the unknowable,
    Plumed far off like a tornado,
    Out of the red box of hell.
    Then,
    Ripped through my body
    Like a raging animal,
    Trying to stay alive.

    And never seeing you again,
    My heart.

  13. BrittanyLFarris says:

    The Secret

    Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything.
    Maybe she was right about it breaking up the family.

    But I couldn’t stand keeping the secret any longer,
    it ate away at me everyday.

    I kept picturing her with him
    and it made me sick.

    I can never forgive her for what she did
    but maybe dad can.

  14. Karen31 says:

    A Simple matter

    Simple as that
    lies let loose
    simple as that
    betrayal embraced
    simple as that
    foolish faith forgot
    simple as all that.

  15. zevd2001 says:

    STUFF HAPPENS
    No more than a pebble
    inside the edge of a sandal
    that refuses to leave. One more block
    and the next, nothing works. Finally

    stopping to sit on a bench, delayed . . . can’t tarry
    too long, removing the obstruction,
    still takes too much time, but who knows
    the upper limits of pain you suffer
    until you are paralyzed and cannot move
    better this way

    so you get there.
    What’s five minutes in a lifetime
    of all the years you get to spend
    you say expecting an amused smile
    but no

    a frown, looking at the clock above
    the desk reminds you punctuality
    is a virtue you cannot underestimate—
    excused for the meantime, marked down
    for future reference

    consider this a learning experience recall
    where you are going, look for the details
    that cross your path. The next time you
    set foot that nothing interferes to hold back
    your daily rounds.

    Zev Davis

  16. I’ve not been spared the pains of life
    Nor denied happiness in paradise
    I’ve climbed with tenaciousness to summits on high
    Plummeted to depths of despair and distress

    I’ve loved and lived with euphoric joy
    been swallowed by poverty both body and soul
    I’ve laughed I’ve cried I’ve lived I’ve died
    Been blessed and be-dammed yet I still stand

    Whether it’s been good or bad happy or sad
    I would trade not a day for any richest of pay
    My path is my own, but to each their own
    It’s all just a test for in life there’s unrest

  17. Fall

    One second
    is all that it took
    to lash out,
    one second
    of complete madness
    and you have never come back.

  18. Marie Elena says:

    “The unleashed demons slip evil into the space between beauty, honesty, love and peace”

    Penned by MICH, I believe this is the most on-point visual of our collective “worsts.” Wow.

  19. handyman43127 says:

    “SHE”

    I speak of love
    She would not.
    I gave my heart
    She could not.
    I wanted to marry
    She would not.
    I broke my heart
    She could not!

  20. mich says:

    (for those moments when we wonder what happened to our guardian angel)

    The unleashed demons
    slip evil into the space between
    beauty, honesty, love and peace

    We see. We hear. We speak. Once we live it
    torture scars grow thick on caring hearts
    scales blind the eyes to the soul

    IF we think. IF we fight back. We have hope.
    As long as one spark of empathy remains
    the inner-human is not lost.

  21. So many touchy poems and so many wonderful words… Here is my humble offering:

    *The Worst Thing That Ever Happened To Me*

    I knew you were going
    some time before you were gone
    And you knew that, too

    No need for doctors
    we just knew
    every breath you took
    was one of very few

    I wonder what I saw
    Around the closed exit door –
    Bright light or shadow
    of my horror
    because of
    the vacuum
    that hurt
    when
    you
    went
    away.

  22. Marie Elena says:

    Like Pearl, I just want to give my humble gratitude for your sharing of such deeply painful and painfully deep truths. I wish I could fully express what I am feeling toward each and every one of you at this time, but my words are not adequate. Not in the least.

    • Yolee says:

      Marie Elena, I echo Seingraham, in that you display such a remarkable, positive resilience despite the circumstances you and your beloved family have endured. There’s a quote that comes to mind now and then from the movie Return to Me “It is those with the strongest character that God gives the most challenges. You can take that as a compliment.” Carroll O’Connor said that. Your good natured attitude separates you from many in a special way. You choose to face the worst and it seems to bring out your best. I am honored to catch a glimpse of your sweet and loving spirit. You are an inspiration.

  23. Marie Elena says:

    Nothing Worse

    Toward the end of a childhood in which I felt loved and safe, I fell in love and married. We had three children we adored, and I silently wondered why I was blessed with this charmed life. Then our baby girl had an apparent grand mal seizure, and was unconscious for twenty minutes or more. She was hospitalized while they ran difficult, invasive tests, believing she had a brain tumor. Days later, I sobbed in relief when it was determined to be epilepsy. I naively believed nothing worse would ever happen.

    A short two years later, I discovered the love of my life and father of my children was regularly cheating. He claimed he loved me, and it had “nothing to do” with me. I naively believed nothing worse would ever happen.

    Reality hit. I had a decision to make: stay or leave? Stay or leave? Stay? Or leave? He could not assure me it would never happen again. But it shouldn’t matter. After all, it had “nothing to do” with me. Remember? I made my decision. I had to tell my three innocently happy children. I naively believed nothing worse could ever happen.

    Years later, I watched as my loving, intelligent son made frighteningly out-of-character decisions. I tried to tell myself it was just a stage. At 16, he admitted to drug abuse. I naively believed nothing worse could ever happen.

    Several years later, my stunningly beautiful daughter walked down the aisle to her husband, and his two adorable children to whom we all became easily attached. This, coupled with my own marriage to Keith, and son’s enlistment in the navy, made me naively think our lives were getting back on track.

    I watched as my daughter’s marriage began to crumble, then come to an end. I watched our “grandchildren” evaporate, and realized we had no right to ever see them again. I naively believed nothing worse could ever happen.

    Almost simultaneously, my daughter’s mind and emotions began collapsing. This woman who owned her own successful business, juggling work and step children, became fearful. She moved, taking only her cat, to New Orleans, to start life a new life. Or so she said at the time. I later found out she was convinced she would die on the way. Over the months, over the phone, I witnessed her deterioration. I naively believed nothing worse could ever happen.

    Katrina hit, murdering her beloved cat and more of her sanity. And I naively believed nothing worse could ever happen.

    She made several moves, before being accepted at the New York School of Visual Arts. Hope. She moved to Brooklyn. Over the months, over the phone, I witnessed her deterioration. But this time, it was different. My lovely, intelligent, determined daughter was no longer. In her place was a fearful, voice-filled, hallucination-plagued, tormented, delusional, suicidal sweetheart who was afraid to live, and equally afraid to die. And I naively believed nothing worse could ever happen.

    We brought her home for what we thought would be possibly a few months for treatment. Have you ever tried to release someone from hell? A few months, too many medications, panic-inducing diagnosis, and not nearly acceptable progress later, she was given a disheartening prognosis. And I naively believed nothing worse could ever happen.

    The minimally successful medications began turning on her, adding Tardive Dyskinesia to schizophrenia. And I naively believe nothing worse could ever happen.

    the worst thing
    is fearing this is not
    the worst thing

      • Ber says:

        Oh god you have been through so much. I can not even imagine how it has been for you we do share one common factor tough. My brother Committed suicide 16 yrs ago. His anniversary is 11th of october next month. My poem today is for him. This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me and alot has happened over the years but this is the worst. He had manic depression which in turn changed parts of his personality. ( schizophrenia). He was so talented a really great writer but had lost all his belief in himself also. I lived with him to try and understand him more and try and see would this change his life and we did have many memories but still this couldnt prevent what was to happen. I am studying social studies and even tough im learning behaviours and why we do the things we do sometimes there are no answers as to why these things occur. Marie im so touched by your story and i hope times will change for you. x

        • Marie Elena says:

          Oh, Ber … how horrible for you. Your “gentle giant” brother sounds wonderful. It’s so difficult to understand what makes one’s life so intolerable that the only way out seems to be … well, … out. Mental illness seems to stalk and steal all that is left. I’m so, so sorry about your brother. You were a gem to understand (as best we can) and help (as best we can). And I believe you are right: sometimes there just are no answers.

          Thank you so much, Ber. God bless you.

    • seingraham says:

      No apologies necessary – you have written of unspeakable pain eloquently, Marie Elena and with such sincerity that all it elicits is an aching poignancy, at least from this heart – You, who show the world almost unremitting cheerfulness, optimism and your profound faith … do not deserve having to fear any more worst things – Thank you for your candid sharing and especially for showing yet again what a strong and resilient woman you are – you are remarkable.

  24. PKP says:

    I knew the collective pain would be nearly unbearable – visceral beneath the most beautiful of words…yet once I read, I could not distance and shield myself… the only reply to such trusted sharing was to share in turn … we have all come through – and now as Jane mentioned in her poem – can return to our present selves – our past still living pain – once again safely contained and shelved. Thank you all.

  25. PKP says:

    (I had no intention of either reading or writing this prompt – after bearing witness I cannot simply turn away)

    Growing in a place all wrong

    Newly back from those
    frangipangi islands
    where ugliness melted
    in rainbow colors, clear
    water and hot air wrapped
    like an ever embrace

    Newly back to the chill
    the cold, the clatter of
    gray steel and ugliness
    undistracted, unexpected
    an already burgeoning
    second trimester sown
    in perfumed paradise
    secretly flowering
    a bouquet under my
    heart sparkling glints
    of sunlight warming
    cold steel promising
    possibility

    I smiled for forty eight
    hours, put up a huge
    pot of stew, painted the
    kitchen yellow of those
    happy faces and decided
    with paint still wet on my
    hands, that it could be good

    That was when the first pain came
    powerful as a crimson tsunami

    That was not the worse part
    Sitting on the toilet a towel
    covering bloody thighs waiting
    for a ride explaining to a dimple faced
    three year old that “No he wasn’t going to
    be a big brother” wasn’t the worst part

    Even at hospital under clean sheets
    washed and fresh and given hope that it
    might all be a mistake, to be told in the morning
    it wasn’t a mistake at all
    was not the worst part

    Through all of that there was comfort
    soft as a carribean breeze, that everything
    was for a reason, and four and a half months
    does not mean life, embraced by the certainty
    that some things are just not meant to be.

    The worst part arrived in a moment
    of waking in a frigid alcohol fumed room
    hearing a well intentioned doctor with a
    swinging delicate golden catching-light-cross
    smile a soft smile and sweetly say,
    “your baby was perfect”
    “just in the wrong place”
    and slip me back into unconsciousness
    into the black icy emptiness
    of a forever frozen involuntary
    matricidal accomplice
    of my “perfect baby”
    growing in a place all wrong

  26. Marie Elena says:

    I’m frustrated with trying to comment on individual pieces. The work here is nothing short of amazing. YOU are nothing short of amazing. What some of you, most of whom I truly feel I know personally, have been through absolutely pierces my heart. What strength you all have. I’m honored to know you all.

  27. Chuwchew123 says:

    The darkness calls,
    With it’s sleeping birds,
    The still of the night,
    The still of life.

    Peaceful and calling,
    It calls our names,
    We will all render,
    To the darkness at hand,
    With the secret beauty it holds,
    It takes away pain,
    Yet leaving some behind.

    It understands all,
    Not fearing a fight,
    Not all want to go,
    But some embrace it,
    Like an old friend.

    It sneaks around,
    Associated with night,
    Only because it calls,
    But you can’t see,
    All misunderstood.

    Judgement,
    Hate,
    Abuse,
    Misguided,
    All not good,
    Causes it to come sooner,
    and sooner.

  28. PHILOMELA

    Circuits of sun over classroom,
    kindergarten that will last a lifetime –
    sweaters hung in rows in the cloakroom,
    cough drops in sticky pockets –
    and at last, it’s the blessed Hour of Art.
    Blunt-tip scissors and blank sheets
    of paper. Poster paint, and
    crayons stubbed and broken, but bright
    as jewels of the crown.
    One small girl squeals “here come
    the easels!” A child’s gladdest hour,
    when she’s in love with color.
    But Teacher sits her head-down
    in the black canyon of Time-
    Out. No colors for this unpainted
    night-bird, no plaint. Her fingers grip
    the table’s wooden limb.

  29. laurie kolp says:

    Walking Through Tough Times

    It all seems like the worse thing when
    it happens until the next thing comes
    along and you throw your hands up
    in the air, wonder why it’s always you.
    For me it was the fraud, fake alibies
    followed by the wreck and hurricanes,
    a suicide, too much too fast. I fell
    flat on my face and faced the truth-
    there was nothing I could do but
    trudge ahead and muddle through.

  30. seingraham says:

    Worst By Far

    The look in their eyes
    So betrayed, so wounded
    The feeling in my gut –
    as if I’d been kicked
    in the stomach
    I dropped to the floor

    Worst of all
    the sure knowledge
    I brought it all on myself

    The humiliation:
    my kids learned of my deceit
    from reading my journals
    carelessly left open
    My exquisitely detailed
    damning and hurtful journals

    Words that ended us

  31. J_Hemmestad says:

    Something beautiful
    Can be woven from misfortune,
    A delicate scarf
    To fit my neck.

    Something effortless
    Is written in the clouds,
    Doused by ocean breeze,
    The teeth of a shark,
    Cut through fluently.

  32. JWLaviguer says:

    Okay I just couldn’t help myself this time :)

    I hope that I will never deal
    With what John Wayne Bobbitt had to feel
    By hook or by crook
    Wasn’t by the book
    Must-a taken years for scars to heal

  33. Jane Shlensky says:

    The Worst is Yet to Come

    Enough of life has passed for me to think
    Of the worst days as those that happened
    To someone else, some me I have not been
    Since then, when that day changed me.

    And now, so many worst days have come
    And gone, that I no longer think of them as pivotal,
    Choosing to assign them to a mental closet,
    Boxed tight, shelved, door closed forever,

    And yet, still stored there, unpurged, unpurgeable.
    So, yes, I remember when I knew for sure
    That my husband would never be true,
    The sting of betrayal fresh with his every word,

    When divorce redefined me. I remember miscarriages,
    cancer, long falls, pain that made death look kind,
    And watching loved ones languish and die,
    And losses, so many losses, and fears

    Measured against hopes, when my life was cheap
    To me and I had a ready argument for ending it.
    But I will not live there anymore, and living
    Involves surviving the many deaths before my own.

    I fancy that I have not seen the worst day I will see
    Yet, that fate has more in store for you and me.
    Oh, my heart, beat on for a while longer,
    And I will trade these bad days for a single smile.

  34. priyajane says:

    The worst thing that happened to me

    The worst thing that happened to me-
    My shadow
    Did not
    Believe in me!!

    PriyA Jane

  35. Sara McNulty says:

    Failure?

    Maybe it was the moment
    I knew my marriage was over
    at twenty years old, and so
    was I. More likely it was waking
    up in a hospital, realizing
    those lights shining above
    me did not mean I was in heaven.
    I had failed. How could I
    manage life?

  36. Yolee says:

    Unnatural Delivery

    Words do not have clearance
    to the worst thing that’s ever happened
    to me. But there’s the incident in 1986
    when Spring was in its trimester
    and I was at the end of mine.

    The anesthesiologist found the right spot
    on my bent but still spine. Not soon after,
    the obstetrician pinched my toes to make
    sure I felt nothing. I felt nothing. Oxygen
    via an ill placed mask whisked around my nose
    and mouth. A hospital sheet went up like a dam
    between my chest and water-melon. The cold

    room was a field of surgical noises and dialect.
    In, and then slowly down went the scalpel under
    my bellybutton like a disturbing movie between pause
    and play. Pain scratched sensations weaving in torpor.
    Why were my arms strapped to the bed?

    Breathe! I could not. I turned my head back
    and forth after my brain demanded several times
    that I alert unmindful professionals and my green
    husband that the anesthesia was thinning out.

    “Too late to stop” said the doctor whose trust
    had been impressed on me like a proverb on a dollar bill.

  37. I’m Sorry

    I couldn’t drink the memories to oblivion
    I couldn’t blink without seeing your face
    I couldn’t walk without falling off the wagon
    I couldn’t talk without losing my place
    I couldn’t think of anything else to say
    I couldn’t think of what else to do
    I couldn’t save you from all of your enemies
    When the enemy you fought was you

    I couldn’t catch you, keep you from falling
    I couldn’t catch the bullet in my hand
    I couldn’t forget the sound of the hammer-fall
    I couldn’t bury my head in the sand
    I couldn’t forgive you for taking your life away
    Couldn’t forgive me for letting you go
    And I don’t want to learn to live with it
    As the bottles on the table will show

    I couldn’t make sense of the senseless
    I couldn’t ransom the life that you stole
    I didn’t have any pieces left to pick up
    The family picture will always have a hole
    Now I sit here with all of the lights off
    As the scene plays over in my mind
    If only I’d done something different
    But time’s a tape you just can’t rewind

  38. Mike Bayles says:

    Let Go

    numbers wrong
    corrective action plan failed
    your planets misaligned
    but you stayed in your seat
    best efforts, but Humpty Dumpty still in pieces
    accountability
    blame
    no more excuses
    if no one made the numbers
    the doors would close
    give me your id badge
    apologies don’t matter
    no more pleading
    thanks for sticking it out
    you’re a nice guy
    good-bye
    shown the door
    the door locks behind me

  39. PowerUnit says:

    An orange glow, an annoyance that won’t shut off
    When I close my eyes and
    Reopen them
    A reprieve
    A blast of laser, or fifty
    Halts the scourge in its tracks

    I learned to never let down my guard
    Not that it would make any difference
    There was nothing I could do
    To stop the blackness
    The sizzling invasion
    Of Zeus’ hands on a black and oily day
    The fountain of dread that would not be plugged
    The fighting for clarity, a vain trial of tears
    A problem for faith and technology
    That finally saved my vision
    After three months of a plunge into nothingness

    Writing this poem a product of the miracles of medicine
    Even though the punctuation battles with floaters
    And words now and then miss a leter or two

    Smile, dammit
    I am

  40. Michael Grove says:

    The Warning Signs

    It was not the day I watched my baby brother
    get run over by a car in the neighbors driveway
    nor the day of snowmobile or motorcycle accidents
    or even the day they told me my wife had MS.
    It was the day I realized that you can’t live life
    if you can’t even read the warning signs.

    By Michael Grove

  41. Mike Bayles says:

    No Word Given

    With no word given
    my love moved out of town,
    but I’d always known
    something in her life was missing.
    Someone else told me
    she answered another calling
    and went to nursing school.
    For the past year
    somehow I knew she was unhappy
    from the times we met
    and I listened to the connotations
    of what she didn’t say.
    But her leaving left me proud
    of her efforts to become
    what she was meant to be,
    a truth bittersweet.

  42. Michael Grove says:

    she’d let her tell me
    lucky lottery ticket
    early departure

    by Michael Grove

  43. JWLaviguer says:

    Trapped
    In my mind
    Alive
    In my mind

    Paralysis disguised
    As death
    Screaming
    In my mind

    The scalpel nears
    “I’m alive!”
    I plead
    In my mind

    A tear falls
    From a staring eye
    As I cry
    In my mind

    A phone rings
    And he stops
    Fighting
    In my mind

    Fingers twitch
    In my mind
    My breath returns
    And I scream

  44. J_Hemmestad says:

    What may be the worst dance
    Could be the best waltz,
    For the veil of the senses was lifted.

    As the musical shattering of glass
    Becomes a window to the soul,
    The barrier between life and death was broken.

    More from the free, the unsung and confused,
    More life was gained than lost,
    An endless plummet into the unknown

    Could be the savior,
    Of all that has come and gone.
    Gravel embedded in skin –

    Could be the cold water,
    Splashed upon listless blood,
    Courage sifts through ashes.

  45. claudsy says:

    Nothingness

    Knees buckling, plank descending backward,
    Within moments examined to no avail;
    Yet aware of ministrations, the mind
    Struggled for meaning within that
    Tunneled world out there beyond my world.

    Traveling without voluntary movement
    Toward pain delivered by those who would
    Decide my condition, ignorant to my silent
    Screams from inside mental walls erected
    By what had shut off that outer body.

    Days of negative answers calmed no nerves,
    Told no tales, addressed no treatment.
    As easily as it switched off, the body
    Came alive once more, allowing voice
    To that inner life during an immobile time.

    Left without reason, perched as a vulture
    Ready to swoop down again in the future.

  46. Hannah says:

    ~MASKED~

    Frozen motionless,
    spiral-stair-case bound…
    screaming, “STOP.”
    Broken bottle,
    Her broken glasses
    twisted on the linoleum,
    limbs splayed out… flailing.
    Neck compressed.
    Coughing…
    Coughing…
    You walking
    like a zombie down the hall
    to your bedroom;
    eyes glazed, sickening rage.
    All because your wife tipped
    the last sip from your bottle.
    She slept on the couch,
    I sat in the reclined armchair
    the remainder of the night
    unable to close my eyes;
    listening for the sliding
    of your bedroom door.
    Planning…
    I would retrieve a butcher knife
    to protect our very lives
    if need be.
    I was only twelve.
    My siblings were only pretending
    that they were asleep,
    not wakened by her stifled screams.
    Her bruises were half hidden
    by a turtle-neck the next day;
    your efforts to make us all forget
    with a dinner out…
    Lost on us all.
    An unsettling undertone
    masked your tactics.

    © Hannah Gosselin 9/19/12

  47. Marianv says:

    Every parent’s nightmare. I wrote this for a group of parents who had experienced a similar loss: This was written almost a year after it happened, when I was able to write again.

    Wrong Answer

    Because it will always be “not you” answering the phone
    Sending the e-mail
    Not you complaining of the price of gas, the war that
    Keeps going on and on, the quarreling candidates.
    Not you who sends holiday greetings, happy birthdays –
    (That one day we share forever locked together…)

    Not you. Not you that turns around when your name
    Is spoken. That name I gave you that you said you liked… Oh
    Heart of my heart, why must I search for ever
    For the one that is missing, the
    ninety and ninth lost lamb – where have I misplaced you?
    What was the word I could have said that could have stopped
    What happened ? A word misunderstood? An undelivere
    Letter? The e-mail left unopened, that contained
    No more than neighborhood gossip
    But let you know you were always in my mind…

    Too late, I turn too late and you have vanished
    What was left they packed and shipped
    Across the country. Not you, it could not be—
    Not you – an empty shell– I still embrace, kiss
    Each chilled finger – no, not you, not you
    Beneath the ground, beneath the sky
    Not you, not you forever.

  48. JWLaviguer says:

    Everything is heavy and serious…need to lighten the mood a bit…

    Catch and Release…by A. Fish

    Swimming
    Minding my own business
    Oh good! Lunch!

    Ouch! What is that?
    Oh no I’m stuck!
    Is this somebody’s idea of a joke?

    I can’t breathe
    Let me go
    Sharpness removed

    Tossed back in the water
    But lip is torn off
    Not a good look

  49. SharoninDallas says:

    ALL OUT OF WAITING NOW

    All out of waiting now.
    When will my life begin?
    All out of waiting now.
    It’s almost to the end.
    All out of waiting now.
    Twenty more years I can’t abide.
    All out of waiting now.
    Please, God, don’t hide.
    All out of waiting now.
    PLEASE, PLEASE, guide
    Me!

  50. deringer1 says:

    how can I choose the worst?
    life is things that hurt,
    that annoy,
    that infuriate,
    that fester in my heart like infections
    incurable by any drugs,
    the pain occasionally relieved
    by short bursts of joy.

    and who is to blame for all this?
    usually me.
    I replay the parade of my life
    and think
    the worse is yet to come.

  51. Domino says:

    Always Keep a Promise to Yourself

    As a result
    of that thing you said,
    when you told me
    you didn’t love me
    and thought you never
    really
    had
    and wanted a divorce
    after ten years
    and 2.6 children
    (because I was
    six months pregnant
    with boy number 3)
    the worst,
    very worst
    moment
    in my life occurred.

    For about thirty seconds,
    that seemed a lot longer,
    my broken heart
    actually
    considered
    allowing my car
    to cross the center line
    just
    in
    time
    to
    smash into
    the oncoming traffic.

    And when our son kicked,
    in opposition,
    I imagined,
    I realized it just
    wouldn’t be fair.

    And then my natural
    optimism
    sprang to life
    and said
    “Things will get better.
    Some day.
    I promise.”

    And they did.

    Diana Terrill Clark

  52. Michelle Hed says:

    Last Conversation

    You called
    to wish me Happy Birthday,
    sweet sixteen,
    from your hospital bed
    but you repeated words
    and your thoughts were on a ramble,
    confused by trails I could not follow
    I pointed out your blunder,
    which spurred your frustration
    and spawned your anger
    ending the call abruptly.

    Saddened that your mind
    was decaying as fast as your body,
    I told myself the cancer
    was talking, not really my Dad,
    but even so,
    our conversation on my birthday
    lingered with underlying hurt,
    greedy with the need
    for a more loving conversation
    on my birthday.

  53. I couldn’t pick just one.

    Mother’s Day

    Mom, a long time diabetic,
    developed a sore on her foot
    and needed an amputation.
    Feeling numb,
    I stood there staring
    at the spot where Mom’s leg should have been.

    At her home, I received a call from my husband.
    When his mom took her daily walk,
    two chows attacked nearly killing her.
    I stared at my computer screen
    of photos in the news
    looking like a murder scene.

    It wasn’t a good day for mothers.

  54. The Worst Thing That Ever Happened to Me

    She said:

    “Your mom asked me
    not to tell you
    over the phone.

    Just come home.

    Ok,
    but,
    promise you’ll stay calm.

    Are you sure?

    Your father died today.

    He was mowing
    the lawn and he had
    a heart attack.”

    I couldn’t hear anything
    after that

    except the sound
    of my youth
    slamming shut

    and the
    mockingbird laughter
    of Fate

    forever silencing
    my Answer Man.

  55. JWLaviguer says:

    Daniel’s my brother
    Ringing in my head
    Was just a song
    Until it opened up a memory

    He was 20 years old
    When he was taken
    From all of us
    Too soon too young

    I was younger
    Didn’t know him
    Well enough to cry
    Until years later

    We could have been friends
    Later in life
    When I grew up
    If I grew up

    He went away
    To serve his country
    Should still be alive
    Fate took him away

    Less of a man
    I have become
    Without him
    In my life

    Don’t let him slip away.

  56. Nancy Posey says:

    I realize writing that even the worst things that have happened to me (so far, knock wood) have had happy endings.

    Phone Call

    That phone call from six hours away down I-40 confirmed
    my premonition, the uneasiness I’d felt but left unspoken.

    On your own for months now, your absence palpable
    in the house, the piano keys untouched, your door closed,

    we lived for the phone calls, the updates, satisfied
    the you were doing well, making friends, learning.

    But the phone call just before we turned in for the night,
    the gentle way she told us you’d been in a wreck

    left more questions hanging, not enough answers
    to satisfy. You were alive. We hung onto that much.

    Only later did we learn the full details—hearing phrases
    unfit for the language of parenting—jaws of life, trauma unit,

    head-on collision in broad daylight, breathalyzer tests.
    Right then, making calls to closer friends, to family,

    I threw some clothes into the car, praying ceaselessly,
    and flew down the highway, heading west to you.
    Broken bones will heal; twisted steel can be replaced.
    You had your life. We had you broken but whole.

    They patched you up, and after only days, we left
    you well attended at the dorm and drove back home.

    • Hannah says:

      Your outlook is refreshing…it seems to me something good can come of bad, too most times.

      These lines:

      “Broken bones will heal; twisted steel can be replaced.
      You had your life. We had you broken but whole.”

      Are so moving…there’s so much said here.

      Beautiful writing as always, Nancy.

    • claudsy says:

      For certain a parent’s nightmare, Nancy. Yet, lessons are learned, priorities put in order, and blessings counted. Another door opens, it’s said. You haven’t lost your touch, Nancy.

    • Domino says:

      “—hearing phrases unfit for the language of parenting—jaws of life, trauma unit, head-on collision in broad daylight, breathalyzer tests.” Those words made me truly grateful I’ve never heard them. <3

  57. Bound

    The bonds of marriage
    are freeing when
    your heart’s desire
    is to be permanently attached,
    To love
    To depend on
    To respect
    To support
    To cherish
    To be friends and lovers.
    But when your spouse
    loses touch with reality,
    and you feel widowed
    though your spouse is still alive,
    and then repeatedly widowed
    with every episode,
    the marriage vow
    truly becomes a bond.

  58. Nancy Posey says:

    Confession

    In love with love, I sorted through the list,
    using a fountain pen, my finest penmanship,
    addressing both envelopes, fanning them
    until dry, sliding the engraved cream card,
    the tissue layer inside each to seal and stamp.
    My gown hung on the hook behind my door,
    like a disembodied angel, blessing my dreams
    of happily ever after, set to Mendellsohn’s
    Wedding March. Why did you choose then
    to confess to your own false heart. You,
    the model of the man I hoped to marry,
    had played false, giving away the heart
    that wasn’t yours to give. Why tell me,
    then ask my not to tell you told? Absolution
    wasn’t mine to give; and forgiveness requires
    penitence at least, desire to set things right.
    Like the suicide’s gift to his offspring–
    the possibility, the option–you made me
    realize that happily isn’t always ever after.

    • claudsy says:

      I wonder how often this vignette plays out for the bride/groom on that most cherished of days? I think you were lucky, Nancy. At least you knew before the ceremony. I think it’s odd that many of us never consider that someone we know has gone through this.

      Thanks for telling of the experience so well and showing us what a gentle lady you are.
      Me? I would have decked him. That would have been my answer.

    • Domino says:

      That would be a terrible thing to learn on that day. Bless you for your strength. <3

      • Nancy Posey says:

        It’s more complex than it sounds. My father decided to come clean about things I didn’t necessarily want to know while I was in love with love. Not only did the groom not let me down, but he’s still around 35 years later. My dad, by the way, also made things right. He and my mother are re-married–for 25 years now–a total of way more than 50 together.

  59. cemartin2 says:

    Mon and Dad split up,
    Made me choose who to live with.
    I was only five.

  60. Michelle Hed says:

    Unseen Scars

    Sensitive to words
    whispered or loudly stated
    humiliation and guilt
    run deep
    whether the words were mine
    or yours

  61. Michelle Hed says:

    Freeze Frame

    vacation pictures
    were not in the envelope
    on the table

    suicide in a barn
    burned in indelible ink
    on my teenage brain

    crime scene photos
    dad never left his work
    laying around again

  62. Michael Grove says:

    Rear View Mirror

    he was cruising down the road
    alone to somewhere else loosing
    battles left and right in his mind
    raced onward toward the image
    he imagined in the windshield
    while being fully consumed by
    visions in the rear view mirror.

    By Michael Grove

  63. pmwanken says:

    ANOTHER DARK NIGHT
    (a shadorma)

    Loud voices
    woke me from my sleep.
    Pounding fists.
    Breaking glass.
    From the darkness I listen
    to Mom’s muffled cries.

  64. SharoninDallas says:

    The Worst Thing
    Now
    Then
    How
    Where
    Why
    Pain a Ten Then
    Pain within now
    Where
    Why
    How

  65. JUST WALK AWAY

    The crash was horrific.
    A terrific clash of glass and metal.
    In full control, the other soul wasn’t quite as lucky.
    Broken bones that ache to this day,
    but at least I was able to just “walk” away.
    The other soul wasn’t quite as lucky.

  66. pmwanken says:

    A DARK NIGHT
    (a shadorma)

    Innocence
    taken away at
    seventeen
    can never
    be forgotten; in time, it
    can be forgiven.

  67. AIN’T SO BAD

    I had found my muse heading
    down poetic paths and ponderous ways.
    Now, most of my days are spent
    writing rhyme and prose. And so it goes
    for one so inclined to purge his mind
    of metered minutia. Our days are numbered
    and I’ve lumbered through these streets
    meeting wonderful poets and muses,
    I refuse to go down without a fight
    (or a Sestina or two). Between me and you
    this was the best time I’ve had.
    I’ve realized this place ain’t so bad!

  68. the diagnosis
    is never a life sentence
    if not meant to be.

  69. Marie Elena says:

    the diagnosis
    of my lovely daughter
    schizophrenia

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