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Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 202

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

For this week’s prompt, I was inspired by the recent Heather Bell interview: Take a true event (whether in your life or another’s) and fictionalize it. You can determine how far to take the fictionalization, but try to push the envelope a little and make people question how much is real and how is fake–and hopefully, have trouble leaving your poem even when they’re not reading it.

Here’s my attempt at a fictionalized true event poem:

“At the Laundromat”

As the machines internalize their rotations, some guy
decides to break the hum-thump-hum. He says, “These
dryers are better. Just saying for when you move yours,
because you never know when they come in and service
these,” and he gives the machine a kick. “You never know,
know what I’m saying?” I smile and nod, think about how
I have trouble telling people I don’t know what to say, but
he continues, “I’ve been here a long time, and I’ve only
ever seen them service anything once. By the way,
rats get in through the bathroom window. Not good.”

I use his pause to pick up my book, but then, he asks,
“Ever meet those folks across the street?” “Nope.”
“Well, they’re pretty nice folks, but they’ll follow you
wherever you go. Like sometimes they’ll follow me
right out of the building and keep talking to me, and
I’m like, ‘Dude, I went outside to get a smoke and be
alone in my space.'” I kind of laugh and look at my book.
The words are there, but I can’t seem to grasp them.

He says, “You remind me of an old friend. He used
to smile all the time, and we called him Smiley.”
“I get that a lot,” I say. “Nothing wrong with smiling,”
he says, “my older brother never smiled. He was
built mean and would dunk my head under water
over and over so that I only ever had a split second
to catch my breath.” And that’s when I start to rotate
with the machines. My smile, my thoughtful eyes–

the poet in me notices the insects caught on bug
tape hanging over the washing machines. It’s almost
midnight and they fly in for the fluorescent lights.
A moth lands next to my foot, and I can’t help
but step on it without feeling a guilty about what
I’ve done that I’d probably never do again. I wonder
what my life might be like if I had been built mean.

*****

Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer

*****

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About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

62 Responses to Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 202

  1. GONE WITH THE WIND
    (rondeau redouble)

    Such a fine morning for a run-away.
    The sun’s behind Stone Mountain, rising free
    with just a hint of breeze at break of day.
    It brings my puppy news that I can’t see

    from higher ridges, lands of snow and scree.
    And down here, the creek dances silver-gray
    over rocks after-rainstorm jubilee.
    Such a fine morning for a run-away

    from piles of papers, promises to pay,
    the must-haves fickle as a fashion-tree.
    Two honkers on the wing, it’s holiday,
    the sun’s above Stone Mountain, rising free –

    no matter all the lock-steps on TV,
    our doomsday world, we’re off the cliff, they say.
    Storm passed in the night, sparkling in the lee
    with just a hint of breeze at break of day.

    Open doors. Loki’s wild but on-belay
    of leash till I unclip her. Bel-esprit
    of wind from every compass-point. Today
    it brings my puppy news that I can’t see,

    and there she’s off outrunning elegy.
    I tag along, behind as Saturday
    that lags, and looks, and listens. Chickadee
    and nuthatch, raven, woodpecker and jay –
    such a fine morning!

  2. CALLOUT

    We switched from Christmas plans, geared up
    for extreme Sierra storm. One out-of-bounds
    skier missing since Monday. White slopes
    heaped in cornices set to avalanche. My
    dog led out, breaking trail thru powder.
    The whole white winter-world set to
    slide. Snow still falling. Search-
    boss called us back. We don’t
    trade lives, he said. We left
    the mountain to its snow.

  3. LNazareth says:

    When you can dream and want so much to let love work

    You are so beautiful 
    You light up my world
    Your are so wonderful
    You make me proud to be your girl
    Only you mean everything to me
    For you my angel keep me loving every moment of this life you see

    You are sweet and you are thoughtful
    You give me every reason to be grateful
    You make each day one to look forward to
    For you sweetheart are an amazing individual

    You are here for a special reason
    You are here to lighten dark moments
    If you were not important or relevant
    I’m wondering how incomplete I would be as an individual

    God placed you in this life
    He sent you to ease others pain and strife
    Think how wonderful you are sweet angel
    Perfectly geared and placed here to help others in their battles

    I don’t think you realize what you are
    You have been a source of strength when all was lost
    May not be perfect, for we all have our faults
    But I need you to know I respect and honor all you have strived for in this world

    I love to hear your sweet laughter
    I love every moment I spend with you and after
    All falls into place quite easily
    When you make things clear and right for me

    So I thank you for being you
    Know this you are a unique beautiful individual
    I’m blessed for having this time with you
    May every dream you long for be yours, all it takes is, to yourself be true!

  4. I’m Still Here

    I loved the feeling of flying
    down twisty-turny tree-lined roads,
    soaring fifty in town, 110 highway.
    I trusted my boyfriend’s driving completely,

    until one day the trees entwined
    with sky and road as we
    tumbled and tossed
    and then thunk.

    And I saw cheery light,
    heard celebratory music,
    smelled something sweeter than lilacs
    and heard a voice I recognized.

    THE Voice
    He said I needed to go back to raise my family.
    “I don’t have a family,” I said.
    “You will.”

    “I want to stay.”
    “You have to go back,
    for now,
    but you will return.”

    And then, oh well, I was back,
    a marvel to the doctors and nurses.
    I raised my family.
    And I’m still here.

  5. POEM FOR THE WORLD UNENDED

    Every day is a surprise.
    At edge of greenwood, I said “go find!”
    My dog knew, I meant a human: Frank. He’d hide
    so he’d never be discovered
    among trees so dense, only a compass kept me
    from fairytale circles. Poison ivy, greenbrier
    twined through trees. Everything gets lost here.
    And Frank?
    My dog came ranging back – her head popped up –
    quick turn, mid-stride – disappeared
    in green – came back with that look in her eye.
    She bucked a pirouette
    in front of me, whirled around, nosed into green.
    I saw nothing but thicket. Green.
    Pivoting, she stared at me, stared
    into green. Leaped in. A gasp – squeal –
    “HELP!” and Frank crawled out, head to toe
    in camo. My dog found the disappeared-
    in-forest. The Green Man.

  6. Dhruvi Haze says:

    It’s crazy, huh?
    They know exactly the wrong they’re doing
    But you don’t
    Because they’re good at what they do

    A young girl of four years, or five
    I can never remember… that’s how young I was
    I was little, he was a different kind of small
    A hormonal, confused teenager

    At first, the trips to the bathroom were games of pretend
    One day it was an elevator, the other day a spaceship
    Strictly professional, fully clothed, he became a big brother figure
    Trust needs to be built before it can be broken

    You know, things like this happen slowly, deceivingly
    First the groping, then the undressing
    Then more groping on complete nakedness
    And the funniest part is, it all seemed like just another game

    Soon it got to where I only had to be told what to do
    Personal prostitution, I like to call it
    “Your mouth goes here… and then you suck.”
    Yes, you really do suck, big brother

    What a wonderful way to break a life
    I feel more disgusted with myself than you

  7. Say It Ain’t So

    I heard the voices loud and clear
    As the shower water soaked my hair
    Is this for real what I hear
    Or did I get water in my ear

    Who are you I said with great fear
    How is your voice coming from thin air
    I see no speakers or people anywhere
    I’m taking a shower don’t you care

    Give me some privacy I declared
    You have no right to be here
    I’ll find you, you son of a bitch
    As soon as I get out of here

    I shut off the water
    and listened with fear
    stark naked but I didn’t care
    this is crazy I don’t understand

    What on earth is going on here
    I thought with great fear
    Who are you I demand
    And how do you know who I am

    You know my thoughts
    I understand that
    For I haven’t spoken
    Sense I entered this bath

    This can not be real
    for there’s nobody here
    yes my imagination
    that must be it

    the LSD last week
    I did to many hits
    I’m still tripping
    That must be it

    Now thirty years later
    The voices still here
    Chatting away without a care
    I’ve learned to ignore them but they don’t care

    They speak of implants and microchips now
    Mapping the brain and DNA
    Telling me to warn everyone
    It’s coming some day

    A means to control societies souls
    Stopping the evil that people do
    Using these chips for mind control
    It’s already here but few people know

    You need to speak out
    And tell the world so
    About this plan for societal control
    It’s no longer sci-fi stuff you know

  8. JWLaviguer says:

    I Am the Cup

    Named for a Lord
    the most prestigious trophy
    yet no one is fighting for me
    because of greed

    The first time ever
    The Kings lifted me high
    a city celebrates still
    but cannot cheer

    So here I sit
    for far too long
    gathering dust
    in silent halls

    Oh they still play
    maybe not here
    in faraway lands
    where it’s still a game.

  9. Misky says:

    Saved

    When the cable broke on that crane, and then
    the whole cross-hatched structure came crashing
    down in drop-stick, sun-drenched acrobatics, and then
    that boy who lived in the rickety house across the street
    pulled me into no. 12′s sheltered porch so we were safe
    from the clatterous mess, and then, right then,
    I knew that this was the boy I’d marry.
    I was 8.
    I knew he’d saved my life, so I reckoned it only right
    that I should save his life and marry him.

  10. Dhruvi Haze says:

    “Shatter”

    It’s crazy, huh?
    They know exactly the wrong they’re doing
    But you don’t
    Because they’re good at what they do

    A young girl of four years, or five
    I can never remember… that’s how young I was
    I was little, he was a different kind of small
    A hormonal, confused teenager

    At first, the trips to the bathroom were games of pretend
    One day it was an elevator, the other day a spaceship
    Strictly professional, fully clothed, he became a big brother figure
    Trust needs to be built before it can be broken

    Things like this happen slowly, deceivingly
    First the groping, then the undressing
    Then more groping on complete nakedness
    And the funniest part is, it all seemed like just another game

    Soon it got to where I only had to be told what to do
    Personal prostitution, I like to call it
    “Your mouth goes here… and then you suck.”
    Yes, you really do suck, big brother

    What a wonderful way to break a life
    I feel more disgusted with myself than you

  11. Sara McNulty says:

    Adept

    Adept at numbers, quite my opposite,
    my sister became an accountant.
    She loved her work, but after
    birth of second child, out of the field
    for a long while, she discovered
    a new love, medicine. With two
    kids, and perfect poster man for
    Scoundrel, she studied, buddying
    up with others–return to school
    mothers, single young men
    and women–persevering through
    medical terminology. She became
    a laboratory technologist. Now,
    she is head of hospital’s laboratory,
    well respected, a fabulous success
    story, newly married.

  12. rustydude says:

    Sunday Sermon

    Woke early that Sunday morn,
    Spring had sprung, the air was warm.

    Made up my mind quick, thought He would approve too,
    Gonna fetch my gear, skip church, catch a fish or two.

    Got out the bread, lettuce, bologna and spice,
    Pret near cut off my finger; very first slice.

    Bandaged the wound, cleaned up the mess,
    Wasn’t anything gonna stop me, I must confess.

    Got the coffee brewing, hot water in the thermos, lettin’ it set,
    When I went to pour, I knocked it over, making my sandwiches sloppy and all wet.

    At that, I gave up on lunch, and thinking me to be smart,
    I’d just stop and pick something up, at the local quick mart.

    Opened the door, to my faithful old truck,
    When I got in; I forgot to duck.

    Got whacked on the head, by the top of the door,
    All I could do was see stars, and hit the floor.

    When I came to, wasn’t much wait,
    But my head and finger were in a sorry state.

    I managed to crawl in, buckle up and turn the key,
    When I threw her in gear; I slammed my knee.

    By now, tears are startin’ to form, and wet my face,
    Thinkin’ the congregation probably be singin’ Amazing Grace.

    It’d been a long winter, and I was tired of the frozen take,
    Plus I heard from family folk – “Pike is chompin’ at the lake”.

    Finally made it, to the music of the lapping shore,
    Not a prettier sight – no that’s fer sure.

    Fixed up my rig, and gave her a cast,
    Halleluiah! – My line was wet, wet at last.

    Cranked it back, slow and shifty, to lure one in,
    Hopin’ no-one that knew me, would see the state I was in.

    First cast, I hooked a big’ne, and would see him surface soon,
    All I caught; some dead, half rotten, smelly raccoon.

    It stank, so rank, and I gasped in a huff,
    Couldn’t get that line cut, soon enough!

    Startin’ to figure this maybe ain’t all by chance,
    Bein’ stubborn and ignorant, I took my stance.

    Moved down the shore, up-wind a bit,
    Found a rock, just right, easy to sit.

    Fixed my eye on the water’s gleam,
    Gave an enormous cast; made that reel scream!

    There was line in the lake, line on the ground,
    It all left the reel, none left to be found.

    Not a worry, as any good fisherman would know,
    There’s always one or two spares, ready to go.

    Back to the truck, to fetch that spare rod-n-reel,
    Took one step, felt something poke right in my heel.

    That lure been airborne, misslin’ all this time,
    Sank deep in my aquiles, pain shot up my spine.

    I acquiesced and let out a yell and a holler,
    My medical insurance sure to go up a few dollar.

    I grabbed what I could, and loaded the truck,
    I ain’t never before had this rough of luck.

    Key to the ignition, turned to start,
    Number three backfired, blew the head all apart.

    Now I’m wounded, bleeding, truck’s in a haze,
    Lo and behold someone’s a honkin’, givin’ a big wave.

    Cringe in my eye – It’s the pastor and his wife, drivin’ out for a visit,
    They stop, change their plans, drive me toward home, don’t just let me sit.

    All the ride home, I’m gettin’ faint , pain, is gettin’ worse,
    I keep ramblin’; “Take me to the doc, before I need the hearse!”

    Pastor just chuckled and said; “Glad we come along, could be of service to you”,
    “I’m makin’ bets; next Sunday you’ll be back in your usual pew”.

    I never had a sermon so clear, like that day,
    Trust me; never, ever again, will I stray.

    I swore, not a curse, but an oath, till the day I die,
    Won’t ever miss Sunday mornin’ service again – no reason why.

  13. Marie Elena says:

    US

    They know us
    (those who know us)
    as best friends who’ve never met
    and I don’t regret it yet
    (except when I regret)
    that we nearly almost met.

  14. Mike Bayles says:

    The Party Cat

    My neighbor takes a cat
    in from the parking lot.
    He buys it cat food,
    feeds it,
    and dresses it in a suit.
    He names the cat William,
    so he can call it by name
    when they go to the bars.
    “William,” he says,
    “let’s spend a night on the town.”
    Woman come up to them
    in the bars
    to pet the cat,
    to his delight.
    “William, you’re the best wingman
    I ever had.”
    He takes the women he meets
    home with him,
    and William paces outside his door
    during the one night stands
    waiting for his fair share
    of attention,
    for he knows
    they love him, too.
    One night, while dressed
    in his suit, he goes out alone
    to claim a woman as his own.
    Inside the bar, he purrs, and he plays
    while his owner stays at home.
    After the women ignore him,
    he decides to go home.
    Lost in the streets,
    he finds a parking lot,
    but the building are not the same
    A cold wind blows,
    and he goes inside the building
    and knocks at the first door he sees.
    Someone comes out, who looks like first owner,
    and so he asks to be taken in.
    The owner buys him food
    and feeds him
    and offers a place
    where he can stay.
    But dressed in a suit,
    the cat is eager to party and play.
    He asks the owner to go out
    and find the bar where he had been.
    Although the owner’s new,
    it’s time for another night on the town,
    a time to begin again.

  15. Mike Bayles says:

    The Party Cat

    My neighbor takes a cat
    in from the parking lot.
    He buys it cat food,
    feeds it,
    and dresses it in a suit.
    He names the cat William,
    so he can call it by name
    when they go to the bars.
    “William,” he says,
    “let’s spend a night on the town.”
    Woman come up to them
    in the bars
    to pet the cat,
    to his delight.
    “William, you’re the best wingman
    I ever had.”
    He takes the women he meets
    home with him,
    and William paces outside his door
    during the one night stands
    waiting for his fair share
    of attention,
    for he knows
    they love him, too.
    One night,while dressed
    in his suit, he goes out alone
    to claim a woman as his own.
    Inside the bar, he purrs, and he plays
    while his owner stays at home.
    After the women ignore him,
    he decides to go home.
    Lost in the streets,
    he finds a parking lot,
    but the building are not the same.
    A wind blows,
    and he goes inside the building
    and knocks at the first door.
    Someone comes out, who looks like first owner,
    and so he asks to be taken in.
    The owner buys him food
    and feeds him
    and offers a place
    where he can stay.
    But dressed in a suit,
    the cat is eager to party and play.
    He asks the owner to go out
    and find the bar where he had been.
    Although the owner’s new,
    it’s time for another night on the town,
    a time to begin again.

  16. Mike Bayles says:

    The Party Cat

    My neighbor takes a cat
    in from the parking lot.
    He buys it cat food,
    feeds it,
    and dresses it in a suit.
    He names the cat William,
    so he can call it by name
    when they go to the bars.
    “William,” he says,
    “let’s spend a night on the town.”
    Woman come up to them
    in the bars
    to pet the cat,
    to his delight.
    “William, you’re the best wingman
    I’ve had.”
    He takes the women he meets
    home with him,
    and William paces outside his door
    during the one night stands
    waiting for his fair share
    of attention,
    for he knows
    they love him, too.
    One night,while dressed
    in his suit, he goes out alone
    to claim a woman as his own.
    Inside the bar, he purrs, and he plays
    while his owner stays at home.
    After the women ignore him,
    he decides to go home.
    Lost in the streets,
    he finds a parking lot,
    but the building are not the same.
    A wind blows,
    and he goes inside the building
    and knocks at the first door he sees.
    Someone comes out, who looks like first owner,
    and so he asks to be taken in.
    The owner buys him food
    and feeds him
    and offers a place
    where he can stay.
    But dressed in a suit,
    the cat is eager to party and play.
    He asks the owner to go out
    and find the bar where he had been.
    Although the owner’s new,
    it’s time for another night on the town,
    a time to begin again.

  17. HARDWARE & HOOP

    It used to be a tinsmith shop and hardware
    in Gold Rush days. Just try to rush the aisles,
    looking for what you can’t find anywhere else.
    You’re stopped a dozen times by something
    you didn’t even know you wanted. I wanted
    a replacement coffee urn. Of course they had
    just the right one. The lady led me between
    impossibly loaded shelves, and pointed straight
    up. “You climb the stairs,” she said, and “push
    it out. I catch.” Did this glass coffee urn have
    wings? I climbed, found the box, and pushed.
    It plunged. The lady leaped and caught it.
    The sale price was worth the show.

  18. Jane Shlensky says:

    No, really, I saw it myself! ;)

    Clifford Royall’s Zen

    Just like that
    Clifford cat
    waited there
    half in air
    spread like twigs
    zags and zigs
    feline flag
    zig and zag
    until he
    became tree
    furry bark
    treetop shark
    eyes and teeth
    smile beneath
    ’til a bird
    half absurd
    flew into
    paws and jaws

  19. foodpoet says:

    Based on a breakfast at the Newark Hilton Dodge Poetry Festival

    Eating Words

    Eating fruit with Jane Hirsfield
    Each bite
    Each taste
    Ripe juicy words
    Bursting leaking down the chin
    Oh Bright fresh words.

    Drinking coffee with Mali
    Eating eggs with Finney
    Finish soda with Doral and wondering

    What do other poets read
    On a down time what poets
    Do they read do
    They enter into book stores
    At least book stores
    That
    Still have
    Poetry
    Words held in place before
    Release
    I close my notebook and head for words after breakfast of poetry.

  20. PowerUnit says:

    Sally Price, United Empire Loyalist

    William was too principled to stay
    The people of our New Jersey home too radical
    The new nation too pure in its peoples’ minds, in his stubborn head
    Duty bound I was to the man in a later century I surely would have parted ways with
    Just as he parted ways with our country, my country
    For love of King and God
    What help was the King when I was forced to wade in hip-deep water to bring young John and James ashore
    Where was God when our plates only held stale bread and no milk
    What did William hope to find in this land, away from the new nation we abandoned, wanting no part of
    I thought I learned what cold felt like in those New Jersey winters
    I thought I knew what lonliness meant when Bill had joined the Volunteers
    How naive I was of the ways of the world
    And now they celebrate our arrival each year with fireworks and parties
    They gaze at those paintings and our steadfast happiness
    Our satisfaction with our new land and our new life
    I roll in my grave like that foresaken ship on that gray ocean
    I curse the historians, and I pity the fools that believe them

    http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~apassageintime/registry.html

  21. foodpoet says:

    testing posting nothing I posted last week worked loved reading through all the poems still stumbling over this prompt

  22. JRSimmang says:

    I would often sit in the dusty old herringbone chair in the
    corner of the caffeine stained coffe shop
    on the corner of Northland and Guadalup.
    It was a time for me
    to reflect,
    usually on nothing,
    a smudged mirror that no longer did anyone any good any more,
    and remember the days that I would come and sit and actually
    have something to say.
    More now than ever, I stare at a blank page,
    coffee slowly turning the temperature
    of indifference,
    latte foam becoming a sticky mess of
    lactose and lost memories,
    and ponder the inexplicable why.

    I spoke to her first when she came in three months ago.
    I’m really good at noticing new faces,
    not that this shop was mine,
    but it could have very well been,
    the amount of time I spent making a space in the chair
    that curved specifically to the curvature of my ass
    so that any one else sitting in that same chair
    shifted uncomfortably like a grandchild who had been caught in a lie.
    She wore those red stockings and blue skirt with a yellow blouse.
    Her hair was done up in a pony tail.
    My first words were, “pardon me” as I reached across the counter
    to grasp the scalding hot liquid awake.
    Her first words were a smile.

    That day, she joined me
    in staring at a blank white page.
    She didn’t ask permission,
    she didn’t cough a politeness.
    She just sat.
    And I, purely enveloped in my disgruntled disfigurement
    of irony,
    grasping for catharsis,
    and perhaps a symbol of metarelief,
    had failed to notice she was hovering at my side,
    enshrouding me in Stella,
    bathing me in a superfluous luminescence
    that simultaneously melted me and held me
    in a spiritual ennui.

    Her second words were, “Name’s Naomi.”
    My second words were startled.

    My fingers pulsed
    and the ink finally spilled.

  23. claudsy says:

    Decisions

    Nothingness, nowhere-ness
    Reach out for the psyche,
    Gripping one mind’s purpose,
    Snuffing out personal
    Meaning for tomorrow;

    For now only darkness
    Rules thought or lack of it,
    Leaving only desire,
    Release from a black hole
    Threatening more horrors.

    Light, sound, emerge to claim
    Attention to the now,
    Offering potential
    Oblivion for good
    In train’s form on the track.

    Speeding forward, one dive
    To take a last breath here
    And leave darkness behind.
    Who would know, who would care
    That time could cease for now?

    Speed, longing, ever known
    For faith in one’s angels
    Until that night, despite
    Plans of last decision
    Foiled by strong unseen hands,

    And heavenly powers
    Remove harm and present
    A life reviewed, found good
    Enough to pursue all
    That time can permit–now.

  24. seingraham says:

    Where Are You Now

    Putting up posters of you,
    I got to study your face
    Every time I tacked up another,
    I took a long look
    Wondering as I considered
    the gaze in your eyes
    What it was you were thinking
    when this photo was taken
    and if you ever imagined
    for an instant
    That one day it would be
    used advertising your status
    As a missing person
    with the police wanting
    Anyone with information
    about you to call them,

    But more importantly,
    your family, your friends
    Desperate for news of you –
    pleading for any titbit
    To know that you were alive
    somewhere, even if you
    Could not stand to be
    here maybe, if only you were
    Somewhere else and
    breathing, that’s all
    Just that; all they needed
    was a scrap of hope
    A line to cling to that
    would allow them a way
    To continue without you
    but trusting that you were,
    If not fine, still fighting
    your demons, still living

    Some said, no, you were
    long gone and they did not
    Mean you had travelled
    far away, they meant you
    Were dead, and they said
    this with such authority
    I found myself cringing,
    flinching from their words
    As if they were flung at me
    like stones, and I wondered

    Were I myself to disappear
    for any reason, would I
    So quickly be written
    out of the play,
    so finally, so easily
    And then, feeling bad
    about such self-absorption
    I tried to compare my
    state of mind with yours
    and how little I had
    actually known
    of your mental health issues

    Until now, now,
    when you had
    walked into the dark
    One night and failed
    to return
    – then arose the news
    that you ‘suffered’
    from depression
    and were off
    your ‘meds’ – so many
    of us whispered – who knew?

    As if by knowing,
    we might have prevented
    this occurrence
    Your walking away from life,
    from all of us, maybe
    As if by realizing
    how alone you
    must have been feeling,
    How you were spiralling
    down into that dark place
    From which no light
    can be seen,
    We might have
    reached out,
    caught your fall,
    But I, having oft’ been
    held hostage
    in that dungeon myself
    knew well that
    there would have
    been no way to tell
    any of the foregoing,
    if you did not
    want it known

    Depressives, for
    whatever reason,
    Become masterful
    at hiding
    their symptoms and
    all that follows –
    I know myself that it
    becomes harder
    with each episode
    to admit to myself
    never mind others,
    that yes –
    Here I go again,
    spiralling down
    into the
    bottomless abyss
    And I will do anything
    to try and convince
    myself that
    it is not happening,
    often ending up
    in hospital
    Before acknowledging
    that I am already
    beyond the subtle aids
    of adjusting medications
    or going to see
    my shrink more often.
    And those closest to me?
    Often have had no clue
    to the desperation
    I am experiencing –
    if I want to hide my pain,
    I become as masterful
    as any criminal or spy…

    If you were sinking,
    especially inexplicably,
    as is usually the case
    for those of us who cope
    with endogenous depressions –
    ie. those which have no
    discernible cause or triggers –
    I can well imagine how
    very desperate and alone
    you must have felt…
    My Lord, I am depressing myself…

    When I heard
    that your body
    was pulled
    from the river
    My first instinct
    was denial;
    probably more
    for self-preservation
    than anything else;
    When someone wrote
    on your FaceBook
    memorial wall
    That we had lost you
    weeks ago
    and this was ‘closure’
    That word I have come
    to loath,
    I found myself
    railing against
    the simplicity
    of the statement –
    I, who was still posting
    your picture,
    however naively,
    Friday afternoon
    Did not lose you
    until I accepted
    that it was you
    when the confirmation
    came in from the police
    sometime Saturday

    Even though
    when I heard
    a body had
    been recovered
    Friday night, I admit,
    I did fear the worst
    But your actual loss?
    Even now, I have
    trouble grasping it

    I found myself
    pondering the
    huge impact
    your going missing
    And then being
    found dead,
    presumably a suicide,
    has had on me
    And, in case it isn’t
    already obvious,
    I’m sure it’s
    because I relate
    as one of the
    so-called, “fragile ones”.
    It is always particularly
    hard to see someone
    lose the battle,
    especially someone
    who appears
    as you did,
    to be so supremely
    winning it,
    so successfully
    wearing the mask.

    I think about
    picking up
    the latest copy
    of this city’s
    glossy art magazine
    And reading
    your article
    therein about
    form and fortune
    I wonder, how did
    you go
    from writing
    those recent upbeat,
    funky articles –
    They are all
    about the latest
    Art Gallery showings–
    To where you
    ended up –
    on our infamous
    high bridge
    is my conjecture
    – after all, you found
    dead in the river
    bisecting this town–
    It usually follows,
    even if it doesn’t
    bear too much
    thinking about –
    But, really –
    what happened?

    As one who
    has experienced
    a long period
    of relative stability
    I feel the chilly
    finger of fate
    tickling my spine,
    tapping my
    healthy synapses
    swinging the gates
    between them,
    toying with
    the idea
    of slamming
    a few shut;
    After all,
    the mental health
    game is a capricious
    one obviously…
    What did it take
    to set your
    chess pieces
    So cruelly
    in motion
    that you were
    suddenly in
    check-mate
    Could see
    no option
    but to forfeit
    the game?

    I know how
    selfish this is,
    I go back and forth
    Mourning your loss,
    fearing for my own
    –and I experience
    some of the stages
    of grief as I go –
    not the least
    of which is anger
    There are periods
    when I want
    to scream at you,
    “Why? Why?”
    into the void
    What was it
    that pushed you
    over finally?
    I have asked this
    question of
    other suicides
    To no avail
    of course, but it
    does not keep
    me from speculating

    So—where are you
    now, I can’t
    help wondering,
    You an atheist,
    Me an agnostic
    who has trouble
    believing that surely
    this is not all there is

    After all, science
    says that energy
    cannot be
    destroyed, correct?
    And even
    with my woefully
    inadequate grasp
    of scientific concepts,
    I believe that one thing –
    that energy cannot
    be destroyed
    and that
    it is energy
    that animates
    these shells
    we call bodies,

    Energy that
    provides what
    We so cavalierly
    refer to as life,
    spirit, the soul
    – whatever –
    when we are alive
    When we continue
    to breathe
    and have a pulse,
    we are filled
    with energy
    And when we die,
    when we cease
    to have a heart-beat,
    when breath deserts
    us for the last time
    and the body
    becomes the husk
    we know it to be
    Then the energy
    that imbued it,
    that made it us
    who we are –
    where does it go?

    Do you have that
    answer now?
    You who professed
    to believe
    in nothing
    and nothingness
    When that light
    of yours
    finally went out,
    what of your energy?
    If it couldn’t
    be destroyed
    Where, oh where,
    did it go?
    Was it left
    up on the bridge?
    Is it in the river?
    Is it floundering?
    Bewildered, wondering
    what it should
    do now?
    Does that happen
    to energy?
    I find myself questioning
    the oddest things
    now, and always
    after someone takes
    their life
    Or even after
    someone dies
    of ordinary causes,
    Where is their energy?
    I can’t help
    but speculate…

    It always comes
    back to that –
    So, where are
    you now?
    If you could
    tell me,
    would you?

    S.E.Ingraham

  25. laurie kolp says:

    The Answering Machine Break-Up

    Her eyes landed on the blinking light
    as soon as she walked through the door;
    her heart sinking as she heard the words,
    falling down to the cold hard floor.

    No decency or respect had he shown for her
    in saying he no longer wished to carry on.
    She should have known what to expect
    from such a conceited person,

    but she had fallen too hard, too fast
    and the mourning lasted too long
    until voices rang from up above–
    God filled her hole with song.

  26. bluerabbit47 says:

    On the bus
    from my new
    home to my
    old one,
    to catch
    a last smile
    from my
    dying father,
    I looked
    out the window
    at a familiar
    pass shrouded
    in forest fire
    smoke, but
    off to the right,
    there was a
    clearing, unseasonably
    green and glowing,
    like one of his
    paintings and I
    knew he was
    finally home.

  27. sonja j says:

    Filching Apples from Wallingford’s

    I asked, and he pulled the truck
    over beside the orchard, so I
    could wade through thigh deep
    grass, and choose two apples.

    They were McCouns, clean,
    sound, with full red shoulders,
    roundly resting in my hands.
    I struggled back to the truck
    with them.

    I was still a girl, impetuous,
    with no notion of my own
    power. When he took the
    apple I gave him, he didn’t
    know that he was saying
    yes to me then, now, yes
    to every forbidden thing.

  28. julie e. says:

    Hmmm. i think i like it this way better:

    WINTER.

    Because it seemed right that she should be sitting
    on a shelf in Nebraska waiting for the Spring thaw
    (ashes to ashes)
    having been a hard woman from the beginning
    having beaten me motionless with her words
    (dust to dust)
    I’ll admit to a smile stealing slowly across my face
    (ashes)
    because at the last, the frozen ground proved colder
    (to ashes)
    than her bitter words scrawled on the photo’s back,
    (dust)
    my face X’ed out in red Sharpie, splitting my smiling lips
    (to dust)
    as a shard of her icy heart pierces mine.

    (ashes, ashes, we all fall
    d
    o
    w
    n.)

  29. julie e. says:

    WINTER.

    Because it seemed right that she should be sitting
    on a shelf in Nebraska waiting for the Spring thaw
    (ashes to ashes, dust to dust)
    having been a hard woman from the beginning
    having beat me motionless with her words
    (ashes to ashes)
    I’ll admit to a smile stealing slowly across my face
    because at the last, the frozen ground proved colder
    (dust to dust)
    than her bitter words scrawled on the photo’s back,
    my face X’ed out in red Sharpie, splitting my smiling lips
    (dead to me, dead to me)
    as a shard of her icy heart pierces mine.
    (ashes, ashes, we all
    fall
    d
    o
    w
    n.)

  30. pmwanken says:

    iROMANCE

    He loved her…
    her words lit up his
    computer…
    and his life.
    At long last, when they met, her
    eyes lit up his heart.

    She loved him…
    his words lit up her
    computer…
    and her life.
    At long last, when they met, his
    smile lit up her heart.

    Soulmates, forever.

  31. White Mountains

    It was innocent.

    Just a way to help her young students
    raise money for the missions.

    A third grade teacher
    shares her watercolor paintings
    of downhill skiers.
    Matted and covered in plastic
    they raised a lot of money.

    And eyebrows.

    For tucked under the paintings
    were explicit life drawings
    of bare breasted
    nudes reclining
    that became a trading
    playground mission.

    Painting the teacher
    a deeply embarrassed
    red.

  32. JWLaviguer says:

    I’m hesitant to post anything since nothing I’ve posted to the 201 thread ever showed up.

  33. Bruce Niedt says:

    I love this narrative poem of yours, Robert. Nicely ironic ending too. Back soon with something new….

  34. elishevasmom says:

    Yikes! It usually adds us to the bottom of the list. Getting moved up top is more than a little scarey. E

  35. elishevasmom says:

    Shadow-Self

    It might be my skin, but I don’t like it.
    Never have. Never been comfortable in it.
    So I have spent my life play-
    acting, pretending, positive that
    if people could see my real self,
    it would never pass scrutiny, pass
    muster, pass the point of
    close inspection.

    So with all this experience at
    deception, it hasn’t been too difficult
    to fake my death. I can no longer
    continue to wonder what people
    really think about me.

    So here I am, hiding behind
    a tree at the cemetery. Just
    close enough to hear, but not
    too close. After all, I can’t chance
    being seen.

    But what I’m hearing makes no sense.
    People are saying things like:
    “She always had this invisible wall
    between us. We could have been so much
    closer without it.” and,

    “She was so good at reading
    you—telling you what you
    wanted to hear. But you
    constantly wondered if it
    was really her speaking.” and,

    “Too bad she never understood
    what a beautiful soul she had.
    We could all see it hiding
    behind her constructs and
    disguises, but she never could.”

    What I’m hearing—it must be a dream.
    The real me is okay!
    I jump out of my hiding place just as
    everyone turns to leave.
    “Hey everybody, here I am!”
    And I am stricken in disbelief
    as they pass right through me…

    Ellen Knight

  36. More true than I care to admit…

    Consignment

    I put twenty copies of my chapbook
    on consignment at the Sunrise Tea Room.
    Six months later, when I called to settle
    accounts, they could not account for fifteen
    of the copies. They seemed very contrite,
    and said they were just completely baffled.
    But something seemed a bit fishy to me.

    Sure enough, it didn’t take long to find
    one of the books serving as a hot mat
    in the kitchen. Another copy was
    wedged tight beneath the dessert cabinet
    to keep it level, while the remains of
    at least three more were serving as packing
    material around an exhaust fan.

    At the phone, a waitress was scribbling
    a long order on an ominously
    familiar-looking pad of paper.
    It was with considerable relief
    That I found the men’s room stocked with normal
    two-ply tissue – but then I washed my hands
    and found I could read the paper towels…

    On the way out the door, the owner asked
    if I would like to come do another
    reading there. I said I’d think about it.

  37. TWO ABREAST

    Two men standing as witness,
    to the reckless carnage displayed.
    Two twisted masses of metal,
    nearby, two bodied laid

    out, lacking motion; life.
    “A damn shame”, I said,
    “what happened?”
    “Far as I can tell, he’s a mess; that one’s dead.”

    We watched the tragic and insane
    attempts to revive, with little luck.
    The one still alive, a miracle – barely.
    As the response continued, a tow truck

    cleared the immovable objects to the objections
    of no one. A life in the balance,
    one tipping the scale of despair,
    the pair not ignored. The gallant

    efforts to save gave hope in the resuscitating breath
    life continued to offer, still painful
    but not painfully still. The will of Him had deemed
    that the innocent prevails, the other a disdainful

    lack of respect for the life so given.
    I glance at the other man, a face
    familiar and distant, an instant recognition
    accounting for the condition of this place.

    A sad smile graced him and I faced him
    smelling the alcohol that laced him.
    “You going to be okay?” you say,
    but his sadness won’t go away.

    “Can I give you a ride?” I asked
    as he basked in the flashing red beacons.
    “Appears I have already one” he reckoned.
    Two men standing witless,

    walking off in their own direction.
    This dissection of life laid strewn
    on the splattered crimson pavement
    during a long ago June.

    I walked into the midst of chaotic activity,
    fists pounding my chest repeatedly.
    An ear pressed to hear a heart still in motion
    and a devotion to stay in this earthly commotion.

    I gasp and cough; a stabbing pain intruding,
    a rib protruding from my side and legs
    that begged for some sense of feeling.
    These were the cards life was dealing.

    And I noticed him watching; standing witness
    alone. The sad smile still shown
    and a nod in reverence for my perseverance.
    Into each others path we were thrown,

    And he climbed into the waiting ambulance,
    a chance to escape with dignity; to hide
    his inebriate waste of life. No urgency in his departure.
    no siren blared. He left two scared sons and a wife.

    I stand today as witness myself, scarred and marred,
    and with a shard of pity for this man I did not know,
    who had come to change how I conducted my life.
    Mostly that I can tell my tale; a show

    and tell of my survival, a glad revival of spirit,
    “He’s a mess; that one’s dead”
    In my head I still hear it. I’m alive.
    and he decided to drink and drive,

  38. BROTHERS IN HEART AND MIND

    I had come to visit my brother. It hadn’t always been something I did with regularity. But as the years pass, the distance between us has narrowed. We hardly acted like friends; never acted as brothers.He was Joseph and I am Walt. No embraces ever soothed the aching hearts. The was never laughter between us that brought joy. There was just two “boys” in search of identity and acceptance. As was the case, I talked – Joseph listened. A good springboard, he never interrupted or interjected. No argument or contradiction ensued. In the company of brothers, it did not need to come to that. I was always elevated by these visits, coming away feeling I came a bit closer to understanding. Joseph was never demanding or insistent. He remained at rest. I could never tell if he found me at peace. He would never say a word.

    Brother lost in though,
    wishing to have been closer.
    Death brings peace to one.

  39. Ber says:

    Ghosts of Yesterday

    Where once stood a life
    a life that filled each room
    now nothing but darkness and gloom
    each wall glossed with matted charcoal
    almost the colour of a dark soul

    Once whispers and laughter
    fun filled the air
    now sadness is all that one can see
    looking at the damaged life that once
    lived there

    Material isolation
    nothing can be repaired
    silence of the nothing
    leaves eyes in despair
    child looks on in fear

    Snow thickened on the ground
    with every deep footstep
    a heart felt pound
    fills the white coverered sound

    Hear her calling out your name
    their lives would never be the same
    no one was at fault
    no one was to blame
    lives lived on
    material items
    were all that was claimed

    Bushes lay in the background
    as eyes wept through dark filled skies
    now wondering after all of those years
    how no one has forgotten those fears

    As a perfect reflection
    caught her eye
    it is no wonder she walks around
    with dreams in her eyes
    these replace her tears she once did cry

    Now the walls are covered in what they used to be
    now the laughter fills each room you see
    whispers of the days gone past
    are like guests of yesterday
    new and wonderful events
    each and every day

    So as the night time falls
    and light it filters out
    no eyes will cry a tear anymore
    only happiness filled throughout

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