PROMPT #360 – ABSENCE

Good afternoon, all. I’ve missed your word-filled, wonderful selves. I’m mostly better now, but still not up to reading or writing. It’s hard to describe, so I won’t even try. 😉 But upon sneaking into the garden to say hello, I see our fearless leader Walt is M.I.A. Trying to get in touch with him to make sure he is okay. In our absence, feel free to write an Absence poem. We’ll both join in when we are able.

In the meantime, know this: There is no shortage of Covid-free cyber hugs to you all!

Marie Elena

Alive and well… I wonder…

WALT’S RESURRECTION:

HEARTS GROW FONDER?

Sorry that I went away,
but you know what they say
about absence and all that jazz.
It has been a hectic weekend,
more than usual my friends.
A remodeling project run amok.
It left me quite stuck
without an internet connection,
and my dereliction was unintended.
I pretended I was still quite young
to be the work horse I once was,
but no longer am. A bad back 
and my decrepit rest was put to the test.
At best, I’ve survived. I am still an alive
and functioning jerk. I came to work 
to get some rest. Who’d have guessed?

© Walter J Wojtanik - 2021

Thanks to Marie for catching my fall (as any Good partner and “sister” would). And to all who reached out privately to check on me, it was greatly appreciated. I am not “the late” Walt, I was just late! 😉

155 thoughts on “PROMPT #360 – ABSENCE

  1. Glad to read you’re feeling a little better. Thank you for the “Absence” prompt in your absence. I was looking for a prompt to combine with my “tear” (homograph) theme today and absence fits nicely.

  2. Pingback: #NaNoWriMo & #NovPAD Day 14: Tearing Out the Tears | Experience Writing

  3. Tomorrow is the anniversary of my father’s death— 34 years he has been gone….

    Tomorrow brings…

    A reminder
    That you left us long ago.
    Most of the chairs you sat in are gone.
    There is one yellow plaid shirt
    I have kept to use in a quilt,
    But the rest of your clothes are gone.
    I still have your poems
    You gave to me
    When you were alive…
    It was the day I read
    My newest poem, and
    You said that I was better than you,
    And then gave your work to me.

    I didn’t want to be better than you.
    I wanted to be myself.
    Everyone said I was like you.
    Ma each time she was angry with me
    Said I was just like you…
    I said thank you,
    But
    All I wanted was just to be me.

    Your absence
    Is not in the spaces
    That you once filled,
    But the fact
    I can’t look into your eyes,
    And tell you
    That despite your doubts
    That I would ever measure up.
    I have…
    Not because you said so,
    But because I did.

    The bond between us
    Was that our brains
    Were wired the same,
    And though
    I was your only daughter,
    I was the one who understood
    Your sorrows.

    But I have my mother’s courage,
    And my determination
    Is as much from her as
    It ever was from you.
    Where you rose above your childhood,
    You never faced the darkness down.
    I knew I could rise above things,
    And unlike you…
    I faced the darkness
    With fear, but that
    Fierce determination
    That my mother gave to me
    Made me walk through the darkness
    To the flames,
    And take a torch
    To light my way.

    Da, your absence is there
    And yet it is not…
    I see the forest,
    And know you are
    In the wildflowers,
    As I am in the trees,
    And Ma, well,
    She is in the sunshine
    That lit the way for us.

    Tomorrow,
    I will wake up and
    Remember that morning
    When I went to tell Ma
    What she knew
    That in the night you left us,
    But I am still here,
    And plan to be here
    For years to come…

    For life is not back there
    In that room,
    But out there waiting for me,
    And I plan to live it.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 14, 2021

  4. As If She Could Capture the Moon

    She waits in the dark for the clouds to clear away
    Her heart
    is focused and her camera is
    ready
    Tonight is the night of the harvest moon
    She turns
    off her flashlight and shivers in anticipation, hoping
    to catch
    a perfect shot of her faithful nighttime friend –
    the moon

    #waltmarie

    Not an absence poem, but I thought a Waltmarie might cheer you uo.

  5. Invisibly Visible

    He can’t be seen
    But He can be heard
    Yet He’s everywhere
    And He speaks in words
    Words His children hear
    And we understand
    But are gibberish
    To the unsaved man

    Except for that still small voice
    Calling the lost to make a choice

  6. The House in my Father’s Absence

    a fresh coat hides
    shadows seeping from walls
    stories in whispers told
    the hedge in front gone
    where I’d seek refuge
    as the lawn keeps secrets
    the unmarked plot
    by the blue spruce
    where my father
    buried the family dog
    concrete blocks in front-
    the new owner
    must have built
    the basement
    my father intended
    but the dream
    to give
    my mother and me more
    outlived his presence
    and I figure
    by now
    the broken shower tiles
    that fell
    must have been replaced
    and in back
    the fenced-in area
    where the dog played
    gone
    where she used to look
    past the branches
    in back
    at song birds and stars
    but now
    after the sun has fallen
    light shines
    out small windows
    well into the night
    as the silhouette
    of the house
    ghosts dark skies

    • Thank you, sir. I must say, it feels good to actually be able to read and make sense of what I am reading again. I can’t really describe how Covid wreaked havoc on my brain, but I sure am thankful it is going by the wayside now. Just in time to enjoy these gifts of poems. ❤

  7. ALOPECIA

    Where once the breeze caressed my hair,
    today I feel the teasing air
    meandering over my shivering skin,
    where formerly my hair had been!

    My head no more provides a home
    for the working rites of brush and comb;
    the two are in the drawer instead
    as sunshine gleams atop my head.

  8. FIGURES IN THE FIELD

    One winter eve, a deer and a tree
    stood silently, watching me
    as I walked along an empty road
    and wondered where the Lord could be.

    My heart was sore; bearing a load
    exacerbated by hatred sowed
    by those whose hearts would never hoard
    a wisp of love to change their mode.

    And so I cursed the absent Lord
    who made a world of such discord,
    and then I thought, the deer and the tree
    might be the Lord, watching me.

  9. IN THE ABSENCE OF WORDS

    In the absence of words
    I am mute.

    Strangled of muse with no
    way to commute—

    To the destination of the page,
    or the blessings of the hearts of men.

    Only constrained to a desolate island
    of phrenic convulsion.

    The great chasm that stands before me is
    fearsome, widening to the outside world.

    I see the fresh moving waves of blue
    sea of Pearl, hurl her beauty afar.

    Back and forth, to and fro it flows
    to the east and west, north and the south.

    It opens its mouth to swallow all
    that it touches—never to be seen again.

    I can smell its briny elements and
    feel the effect upon my aching skin.

    But I am not comforted by its freedom,
    nor touched by its transforming power.

    I am drowned in a dark sea of misery, an
    hour of etiolated words, and fierce isolation.

    They churn brutishly within, howl desperately,
    but remain silent with no way to turn.

    I am sentenced to pain, chained to cruelty,
    and forever remain on the island of desolation.

    Benjamin Thomas

  10. WHEN OUR ABSENCE IS COMPLETE

    Although when we return to the dust
    from whence we came; the effect of our words
    will forever remain—in the hearts of those around
    us.

    They will stoke the fire of agony in our absence,
    or will provide a covering of glorious shade
    in a day of sweltering heat.

    Although our physical presence will be absent,
    complete, our word continues to live and thrive far
    beyond our passing—for better or for worse.

    They will run their course in those whom they
    targeted; to the destruction and ruin of faculty,
    the walls of hope crumbling, the façade of
    stability exposed, disintegrating.

    Or they will run their course in the wild streams—
    amidst a teeming forest of life. Life and limb
    flourishing among the meadow; flowers of faith
    releasing fragrant spring pollens, the honorable
    colors of love abounding to full bloom.

    Where there is no room for hate, grief, or sorrow.
    A place where it has no seed, root, or tomorrow.
    A place where summer breeds perennial plants
    of compassion, with lasting blossom without fear
    of winter.

    Where prancing deer can enter, the horse
    and Wildebeest thriving in the fields. The happy
    feet of rabbits skittering about, and smooth kind
    of Elk languish comfortably in the land.

    Benjamin Thomas

  11. IN MOTHER’S ABSENCE

    You are gone.
    But you are still with me.
    I can still feel the warmth of
    your hug, the shine of your smile.
    Your witty, charming laugh.

    You are gone.
    But you are still with me.
    Your words, and your hands
    are with me—when you smacked
    me into oblivion.

    They are indelibly etched
    into my conscience, inscribed heavily
    upon a feeble psyche.

    I bear the marks
    of a child born of suffering.
    Tattooed with anguish—
    Seen by all.

    A witness to the striking
    weaponry of discipline.
    Swift and decisive. The blows
    that rattle a child from his
    safe place. Never to return.

    Your love and anger
    are written in blood
    upon my heart. Burned,
    and stained in your name.

    I can still hear your
    voice, the effort of its tone.
    Your own brokenness remains
    with me.

    Even though you never shared
    it with me, or spoke of it,
    your silence and manner were
    enough.

    Your darkness I never knew—
    but I felt it. Took it as my own.
    Words cannot bear
    its communication.

    I heard it aloud. It seeped through
    the cracks, and I heard your suffering.
    It still calls out to me from the
    grave…..

    Where you lay,
    broken and unhealed.
    Your wounds were never addressed.
    There they lie—Open, infected,
    and unsealed, a mess.

    No stitch ever touched your pain.
    Your endured the unbearable.
    Intolerable in silence, and alone.

    You never knew the blessing
    of wholeness. The fragrance of peace.
    The healing balm of true joy.
    The psalms of praise.

    You are gone now.
    But, you are still with me.
    Always and forever.
    I wear, and bear you
    on my broken heart.

    Benjamin Thomas

    • … and speaking of misty eyes. Benjamin, you have managed to capture in one short poem the essence of humanity. God bless and comfort you in both the hard and sweet memories. ❤

        • Oh, Benjamin! I can SO relate to this, and you have written my own Mother’s issues so empathetically–and yet with distance sweetened with wisdom. So piercing, but so timely. Thank you for sharing this– I don’t think I’ve ever been able to capture my own Mother as well as you’ve done….

          • Thanks so much pat. I’m glad it could resonate so much with you as well. As I told Janet, I wish I knew this hidden side of my mother, but to no avail. I feel bad that she went to the grave suffering alone the way that she did. Our relationship was complicated (isn’t it always?) but I loved her dearly and harbored no offenses against her. I thank God for that and the time we shared together. We seem to have some things in common. I suppose you could be a sister-sibling!

    • So well done, Benjamin! Wow, so much rich and raw emotion in this poem! The understanding and compassion is moving. What touches and affects those before us, cannot help but touch and impact us as well. Your poem spells this out beautifully and painfully! Incredible feeling here!

      • Thanks so much Janet. ❤️❤️ It’s so true how the experiences of one generation affects the next one. My poor mother bottled it up so much I never knew that side to her, but I knew it was there. I think I understand it more now that she’s gone and I’m having my own experiences in life. Many times I don’t know what I’m feeling or thinking until I write it! Glad it could resonate with so many of you here.

  12. Take CARE of yourself!
    (My first 2022 garden catalog arrived Saturday. Silly of them, as it is not time yet for graph paper winter gardening—but you gotta like their attitude.)

    Walt?

  13. To Walt and Marie . . . your absence has been felt and your presence has been missed. I wish you both a speedy return! Here’s a poem to both of you!

    IN THE ABSENCE OF WORDS

    When two people
    Go silent
    After guiding
    Sliding their words
    Of support
    Of encouragement
    Of poetic inspiration
    To their group
    Of waiting poets
    Hearts open
    To wonder
    To wait
    To hope
    All is well
    The salt of the earth, Walt
    The one who can see, Marie
    And an echo goes silent
    Activating the return sound
    Found in the poets
    Where are you
    How are you
    Will you return
    It’s our turn
    To let you both know
    In the absence of your word
    Our love and care are heard
    While we lift you
    Gift you
    With our present concern
    Lesson to learn
    When you are both absent
    Our love is sent
    As we wait
    As we wonder
    When we’ll see you
    And your words
    Again

    (c) Janet Rice Carnahan 2021

  14. Today 34 years ago my father died. This poem is one of his not one he recited but one I found among his poems… there is a line in it… that I have put on a shelf across from my office in my pantry… each shelf has a quote I like…but this one is his from his poem today…”It is through Grace we live each day.”

    Today by Joseph Archer Todd, SR.(better known to me as Da)

    Today

    In an instant, birth from thy mother’s womb
    In an instant, death and eternal tomb
    Between the two, a period of life
    Full of pleasure, full of strife.
    No man knows what lies ahead-
    A short time to live, a long time dead.
    It is thru grace we live each day.
    Whether at work or whether at play.
    It matters not what we say or do,
    Or where I footsteps lead us to
    It matters not what we see or find,
    Happiness is a state of mind.
    Live thy days one by one.
    Don’t fear tomorrow; it may not come.
    Don’t keep the burdens of the past,
    For time is ever fleeting fast.
    You cannot cheat time in any way,
    For all you have is in today.

    Joseph Archer Todd, SR
    1915-1987

    • The other quotes are “Rejoice in the Lord, Always” Phil. 4:4
      “It is today and I must be livin'” said by Fairlight from Christy by Catherine Marshall
      then Da’s quote
      “Those who sing Pray twice” St Augustine
      “All gold does not glitter; all those who wander are lost” J.R.R. Tolkien
      “Love is the only gold” Tennyson.

      • He was a lovely man… and people loved him… he could recite about 20 of his poems… and I miss him doing that…. and Thank you…

    • Absolutely lovely and wisdom-rich. You obviously come by your love of poetry and writing abilities quite naturally. It is a part of your DNA, I’d say. Thank you for sharing this with us, Mary!

      • Thank you and I think that also… My father’s great grandfather wrote poetry also though none of it has survived… but I would have liked to have read what he wrote during the civil war…. He was a doctor during that horrid war.

  15. Good to see your verse, Walt. The back may be out of whack but the sense of humor is no idle rumor.

  16. Ausencia

    There is an absence of color now
    a void beyond the brown and tan
    the cinnamon and nutmeg leaves
    curling off red oaks and chinquapins

    spinning along the avenue where
    no one is walking
    their dogs today or jogging
    in lycra stretching out beside
    the stop sign where Firethorn
    blazes in the median

    everything paused into waiting
    for the arm with needle to drop
    onto the grooved 78
    air vibrating with its own hubris
    full of nothing but these
    leftovers soon to be dust.

  17. DEFICIENCY

    It’s hard to develop credenzas and pallets
    in workshops that feature an absence of mallets.

  18. Absence of Doubt…

    There are three things
    I do not doubt…

    I know that I am loved by God.
    It is evident in the gifts He brings to me.

    I know that my friends love me.
    It is evident in how their faces light up when they see me.

    I know that each day I live is a gift,
    And no matter what I shall rejoice in that gift.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 15, 2021

  19. IN THE ABSENCE OF BREATH

    In the absence of breath—
    A gasp. A mutter of what’s left upon
    spent lips. There a remainder, and only
    sign of a life once lived. When there’s nothing
    left to give, boiled down to a single fleeting breath.

    And in that finishing breath?
    A cry, a plea, a prayer to escape the fangs
    of death? Loosen its shackles, nor pay
    its petulant fee?

    A life reduced to dissipative vapor,
    thin whispers gathered upon the pillow,
    make way for a reluctant escape. A slow
    ascent to join the cloud of witnesses above.

    The very last breath, lingering upon cold
    hardening lips. Taking one last look—
    reminiscing in precious moments
    that delivered the joys of life.

    What is life, except the inhabitant breath
    residing deep within the human vessel?
    Traversing to and fro, flowing and knowing
    every waking cell. Until that perilous day
    arrives—to pay the deed of death’s infallible warrant.

    Benjamin Thomas

  20. IN THE ABSENCE OF LIES

    In the absence of lies,
    lies the naked, shameless truth;
    it stands as peerless gold, unblemished
    diamond, the evidence of perfection—
    forever bulletproof.

    Benjamin Thomas

  21. IN THE ABSENCE OF EAGER WINGS

    In the absence of wings
    the solemn weight of the world
    pins down freedom.

    The indiscernible force of gravity
    defies the cry of eager wings.

    Clipped by circumstance, dropped
    to the ground, there they lay, hoping
    for bigger and better things.

    In the absence of wings,
    the walk of life is a long, long arduous
    journey.

    Who can sustain it? Endure the
    troublesome, winding, meandering
    road?

    Benjamin Thomas

    • Thank you but I have not been as productive since I am trying to do Writer’s digest as well…plus the last few weeks I have cluster headaches…which has made reading especially difficult…but I got good news the Iron patches are working my iron was up four points… still below normal but in three months I may be normal again… as for as the iron and me as a whole is debatable.

  22. Visiting a Ghost…

    I went to the house
    Where the antiques
    Were once sold,
    And stood in a room
    Hearing the blonde elderly woman
    Who was spry and wonderful,
    And the way she said wonderful
    Was simply that to hear her say it.

    She would tell me a story
    While she served me hot tea.
    It was my lunch hour, and it was
    My gift to my life.
    In that house I was a storyteller,
    And she and I would exchange
    Our stories as just simply
    Enjoyed the company.

    I walked through the room
    Where the lovely pink lavender
    Bowl and candlestick holders had waited
    For someone to buy them.
    They were much too much for me to buy,
    But I wanted them so much.
    I remember just before Thanksgiving
    I had stopped by and saw they were gone…
    My coming was to ask her if I could pay her
    In installments for I so much wanted them.
    I was sad, and she watched me
    And I said only, “I hope whoever gets them
    Will love them.” I was almost in tears
    For I had waited too late.
    She said simply, “I am sure they will.”
    On Christmas Eve, Ma gave me that
    Which I wanted, and after the holidays
    I went to tell this marvelous woman
    Thank you for not telling me.

    I wander the old house looking at the perfect spaces,
    But
    There was no storyteller except me.
    The woman who once heard my stories
    Had long left this life.

    I closed my eyes
    And saw her standing there
    And heard this tiny older woman
    Who was filled with sass and strength
    Speaking with her rough rasping gravelly voice
    And her eyes rolling at the appropriate time,
    And we would laugh and
    It was an hour where I was free
    From the horrors of my job,
    And felt the joy of being my other self-
    Simply a storyteller.

    It is a nice shop.
    And there will be new memories
    Created within those walls.
    But today I felt the absence of the storyteller,
    and visited her ghost instead.

    Before I left, I stopped again in the room
    Where many of our stories were told.
    I whispered, “I am well.”
    I felt the brush of a hand against mine,
    And I knew she knew I was there,
    And approved of my storytelling.
    I will return to the store one day.
    Today I came to visit a ghost.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    November 16, 2021

  23. IN THE ABSENCE OF SACRED THINGS

    In the absence of sacred things
    there is a cryptic ache for the exotic
    accoutrements.

    When the ignorance of passing cloud throws
    shade on the nighttime moon.

    Hindering her ability to illuminate things
    that go bump in the night. To cast a sliver,
    smooth, silver light than the warmth of daytime
    charm.

    When there is no rain from the fountains above
    to appease the thirst for an aching earth.

    Who grieves in pangs of birth to bring forth
    beauty that bleeds from the growth of seeds
    and soil.

    Such as the precious lilies of the field who neither
    spin, nor toil to be clothed with the care from
    the face of the heavens.

    When there is no change of season to divulge
    the profusion of color burning deep upon the
    retina’s core.

    Such as the untimely death of autumn’s ruse;
    imposing impurity of bland tastes upon
    the palate—aching for the resplendence of hues.

    There is simply no substitution for the absence
    of the sacred things. The soothing, cheerful taste
    for the exotic wines of nature’s service.

    Benjamin Thomas

  24. IN THE ABSENCE OF GRAVITY

    In the absence of gravity
    all is lost and chaos.

    Everything and everyone
    is up in the air.

    Free to collide with
    the unexpected.

    With nothing to weigh
    us down we are carried away.

    With nothing to keep us at bay,
    we are doomed without an anchor.

    Forever lost at sea,
    an endless, cold sea of space.

    With nothing to weigh us down,
    we bear no weight—

    In this world.

    Ungrounded. Hurled—We lose the
    ability to move freely.

    Our steps become pointless
    movement.

    Without one foot in front of the
    other, there is no path forward.

    Just senseless motion. Wasteful
    energy without aim.

    We need the mysterious, magnificent
    force of gravity to ground us.

    To keep us weighed down to
    circumstance, weighty situations.

    Situations that allow us to
    get a grip.

    Situations that allow us to take the
    next step in the right direction.

    The path forward requires us to keep
    putting our foot to the ground.

    The path forward requires us
    to bear our own weight.

    Benjamin Thomas

  25. I am sorry to have missed this prompt. So happy to see that our hardest working gardeners are no longer missing. Hugs to you, Marie! So glad to hear that you are somewhat better. Walt, you must have been shocked to discover that you are no longer in your twenties. I know it knocked me for a loop! Good health to all.

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