A combination of things came together today in order to create this poem. I’m reading a book, The Poetry Home Repair Manual, by Ted Kooser, and just finished a chapter where he asked a question on how important a role a poet gives himself or herself in the narration of a poem. Is the poet the narrator or is a fictional character assigned that task, and how much of the narrator is revealed? Next, I had an email discussion with a friend about depression. Finally, The Sunday Whirl http://sundaywhirl.wordpress.com/, wordle #21, had the words: urgent, simple, pockets, jolt, build, now, dignity, cut, bold, scrape, roaring, pass.

I don’t think I’ve experienced a day of depression in my life, but I’ve seen it and worked around it hundreds of times. By using the tools from the first five chapters of Mr. Kooser’s book, I put a little more thought into this poem than usual, and I had to put on a persona I’ve never worn before. I have no idea if it worked or not.

By Mike Patrick

Nothing is urgent anymore.
He trudges, hands in pockets,
staring down at the sidewalk.
Leaden clouds hang over him,
he’s deaf to laughter from the park.
His body seems to shrink away.
Food has no taste.
Dinner is the closest container in the pantry
. . . if he remembers to eat.

Once so bold—he faced life,
roaring in its face,
daring it to pass him by.
He grabbed life,
held it against him; made love to it.
Now, at the age when everything should be simple,
even his dignity is gone.
He no longer cares who sees him cry.

She had been his anchor.
She could jolt him out of darkness.
She could make him live.
She could make him feel.
She . . . was gone.

Along with her,
everything beautiful was cut from his life.
Everything meaningful had evaporated.
There was nothing left to build.

Oh, he’ll scrape by—for a while.
She’s gone.

This entry was posted in A Wording Whirl of Sundays, Aging, Death, Depression, Free Verse, Lost Love, Poetry, Un-rhyming and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to FLOUNDERING

  1. viv blake says:

    Bravo, Mike. I forgot it was a wordle, which shows how well you’ve disguised the words.

  2. magicalmysticalteacher says:

    I’m going to come back later and savor your poem, Mike. Right now, I just want to congratulate you for delving into Kooser’s book. It’s an excellent read!

    • Mike Patrick says:

      An excellent read indeed. It glaringly pointed out how much I don’t know about poetry, and at the same time, pointed out how much my friends do. I often disagree with them on what makes a good poem, yet Kooser, 13th Poet Laureate of the United States (what does he know?), writes a book echoing everything Viv has been telling me since she gently offered me my first poetry suggestion. My stubbornness has cost me a lot of time.

  3. Traci B says:

    Mike, you’ve expressed the depression that follows the loss of a loved one – especially a spouse – very well. I haven’t experienced it, but I’ve seen it in other lives, and it can devastate one’s world. Well done handling a topic and viewpoint you weren’t familiar with, my friend.

    • Mike Patrick says:

      It was only after posting this poem that I revisited the email conversation I had with my friend. We were discussing the lingering effects of 9/11. Now, I wondering how big an impact today’s tenth anniversary had. Something directed the wordle in that direction.

  4. Awww This is so deep and meaningful to me. Heartfelt, sad. a beautiful write Mike, great use of the worlde words.

    • Mike Patrick says:

      Bren, this is the first time I every imagined a specific audience before writing–something from Kooser’s book–and you are the exact middle of that demographic: someone who has lived a life expanded beyond themselves, learned to care, has known love and perhaps experienced loss. Now, I’m afraid it hit too close in some instances.

  5. brenda w says:

    Oh Mike, this is sad. As a woman who feels herself aging (I’ll be 50 in January), I worry about this. I selfishly want to be the one who’s left behind. Let me go first….life without your partner would be bleak indeed. After the patterns are established…you become each other. So yes, I think you succeeded in this piece! Well wordled, the words disappeared in your message.

    • Mike Patrick says:

      I owe everything to your wonderful word selection, Brenda. Great ones again. Age and long-term relationships definitely change our perspective (even though you are still a pup). I’m trying to find a balance between acknowledging my mortality and dwelling on it.

  6. Susannah says:

    That is a beautiful piece of writing, wordle or no wordle!

    A very believable portrait of depression and a great use of the prompt words.

    • Mike Patrick says:

      I was so deeply involved in writing this, I originally edited out a couple of the wordle words. I know there is no requirement to use them all, but it adds to the challenge. I managed to get them back in, and hope the late bloomers didn’t detract from the poem.

  7. adeeyoyo says:

    I found this poem overwhelmingly sad. Check your tenses last of all, Mike, before publishing. I find I have to remind myself to do this constantly. To my mind, the second stanza should read ‘…dignity is gone.’

  8. Laurie Kolp says:

    Mike- Sad… I like life roaring in his face, though…

  9. You have captured the hopelessness one may feel when suffering from loss.

  10. Nanka says:

    The opening verse gives such a clear picture of a creeping melancholia, with expressions that are the very best!! I love your endings, as always they have a positive note.

  11. Mike, a very sad piece. I definitely want to go before my daughter and husband.

    btw, interesting title, I had some confusion over that word this week.

  12. Mary says:

    Mike, I would say it works. You have captured the sadness of this grief-stricken man well. And, no, one would not guess it was a wordle if one didn’t know. Bravo for trying something new.

  13. nan says:

    Poignant and beautifully sad.

  14. pmwanken says:

    “Floundering” says it all. Believe me. ~Paula

  15. Mama Zen says:

    This was so smooth. Unbelievable wordle!

  16. Cathy says:

    Brilliant, you did capture the feeling of depression and the hopeless that drags you down

  17. geri-Mom says:

    Wonderful, poem, Mike. Beautifully written, of course, but most impressive to me is that you show a depth of understanding that most people who haven’t experienced depression never understand.

  18. 1sojournal says:

    Excellent title for a well written piece. You get kudos for chanllenging yourself in this fashion and succeeding so well,


  19. Beautiful, descriptive, poignant, sad, wow a wordl, poem.

  20. Mr. Walker says:

    Mike, an excellent poem. The first two stanzas definitely capture depression, but then it changes, and it’s really grief. But keeping that loss hidden for a bit makes it very poignant and speaks to the difference between depression and grief. That “for a while” near the end is haunting. I will definitely be looking for that Ted Kooser book.


  21. Morning says:

    beautiful take on the prompt.


  22. Mike says:

    Wow! Mike this is tremendous. As someone else has already said I forgot that the prompt was the wordle words because you made the whole thing flow so beautifully.
    A very poignant, sad poem with lots to say. A great read – thanks.
    PS I am intrigued by the book you mentioned – off to Amazon to check it out.

    • Mike Patrick says:

      I picked up the book from the library. I went there with a list from Margo, but they only had one from the list. I found The Poetry Repair Manual by prowling the aisles. If I have ESP, the only time it works when I’m in a library or book store. Something always leads me to a book I should read.

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