Captive Unread

⠀⠀⠀⠀The killing of the thing they love
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀to some’s a sin to hide,
⠀⠀⠀⠀to some an ill, to some a thrill,
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀to some a source of pride.
⠀⠀⠀⠀Death doesn’t care what why or where
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀when love’s the thing that’s died.
⠀⠀⠀⠀The prison cell reserved in hell
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀is not what haunts her most,
⠀⠀⠀⠀but rather time served for her crime
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀devoid of all she’s lost,
⠀⠀⠀⠀unseeing as the dream death has,
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀unseen, a tortured ghost.
⠀⠀⠀⠀The captive’s guilt in stone is built,
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀in steel encased in shame,
⠀⠀⠀⠀unread her word, her screams unheard,
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀unfinished her last game,
⠀⠀⠀⠀thus justice gives to what yet lives
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀and to what dies the blame.
⠀⠀⠀⠀The killing of the thing they love
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀leaves those who do so dead
⠀⠀⠀⠀unable to see living through,
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀cursed to their own death’s bed
⠀⠀⠀⠀as much so by love’s words that die
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀as by their words unsaid.

prompted by Freedom for Love
at the imaginary garden with real toads

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26 Responses to Captive Unread

  1. Marian says:

    wow, this is what you write when you are up with the baby and sleep-deprived? very impressive. love it, all the rhymes make it that much more poignant.

  2. Kay Davies says:

    Wow, I just read your conversation with Marian, and am even more impressed than I was when I first read your poem. Surrogate mom to a baby who likes Vivaldi—what a treat. If or when your surrogacy ceases, you will probably cry every time you hear Vivaldi. (That is not a curse, it’s a warning.)
    To get back to your poem, however, I love it, especially the internal rhymes. I’m a sucker for internal rhymes but seldom write them myself. I think I’d rather read them.
    Your first stanza is absolutely brilliant, and so are the first two lines of the second stanza: “A prison cell reserved in hell” gave me shivers.
    So many people seem to kill the thing or the person they love. Most murders are domestic, after all. I wonder why. Too much intimacy, not enough privacy, perhaps.
    Brilliant work here today.

    • Thank you for reading and sharing, much appreciated. And for all that you and the other toads do over at the pond, been quite inspiring. Some prompts I’ve used from other sites, I’ve had to struggle a lot more. Not that hard work on any poem is bad. But the prompts at Real Toads have been good at getting my muse all hot and bothered.

      I don’t normally do a lot of internal rhyming. But since Wilde’s last ballad had enough in it to be compelling, I couldn’t resist the echo. Wilde’s of course being the more practiced hand, his wasn’t as rigidly tied down to the internal rhyming, and if I’d told the tale in between my first two stanzas and my last two – as was my original plan – I would have loosened up cozier to the model I used his as. Blame the sleepless night: the four stanzas I went with felt contained enough to fly on their own, at least for a first draft.

      As for killing the one loved, I’ll just point back to my model for this, Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol. To which I am nodding, from personal experience.

      As for Iggy, the Vivaldi did seem to calm him and help him breathe easier, find some good sleep. Maybe he was just happy for a break from the lullabies I sing for him to Pachelbel.


  3. I love the poem–partly for very dark reasons.
    No desire to elaborate.

    As for Iggy–keep feeding the music plates–all sorts of things going in little one’s brainpans–much more than the ‘experts’ will ever know. My son responded to music from the time he was born. I’m not kidding–put on the radio, a record, a wind up music toy and his attention was THERE–eye, ears and hands all wanting it.

  4. Sherry Marr says:

    Stellar writing, the more admirable for being sleep deprived and caring for a baby. So sad such a little one has lost a parent already, and you your friend. I admire you for stepping in to help with the baby. Bless you.

    • Thank you. One thing, as full-time as Iggy is, at least he gives me plenty of time to be writing. Outside employment that I had before may have taken fewer hours out of my day, but left me no opportunity to sneak in writing things down during the day, so much of my writing then went as lost as a forgotten dream. I’ve never written so heavily my whole life as I’ve been able to do these past several months. An am very expert now at rocking Iggy in one arm while writing poems (and this comment and others) in my other. ✒Cyn

  5. Mama Zen says:

    Yay, I can comment! I’ve been adoring your work, and this piece is outstanding. So smooth!

  6. I love the way this feels like a grim riddle! 🙂

    • Thank you. In Wilde’s poem that gave mine springboard was his tale of death penalty serving as metaphor to the death sentence all must serve as all kill what is most loved. I wanted in mine to respond to the riddle of how it is that some think themselves above the law and immune to love’s justice, imagining they can wish the death of love, plot the death of love, commit the murder of love, all without incurring the death penalty Wilde acknowledges. Grim riddle indeed. ✒Cyn

  7. Dark depth in this..the ending brings it all home. Fantastic write!

  8. Well, Cyn, your circumstance of surrogate motherhood, which is itself a grand and taxing enterprise, has taken over, so let me say this: When I was pregnant with Riley, she already had rhythm in the womb, so I’m thinking maybe his mom, Bless her, might have done the same.

    Your poem is classically rooted and brilliantly executed. The musings on killing what (or whom) we love, sure, dark and twisty, but thank God you are sleep deprived, because that’s one of the conditions which brings out (for me, at least), the most unhinged, gorgeous poetry.

    This is truly beautiful. And so are you! Amy

    • Thank you, Amy.

      Iggy’s mother sang and read to him constantly while she carried him. She was a beautiful woman whose poetry very deeply influenced poems I now write. She gave him the best of her life to start his, and I feel honored to have the opportunity to help him as much I’ve been asked to.

      Just after waking from too little sleep or just before falling asleep from being up too long, on the edges of fugue state, when it often feels like the words come to my lips straight from my muse’s own tongue, that’s when poetry feels most pure, most naked, most fantastic to me. Not coincidentally, those are my best hours for reading the poetry written by others. Iggy has been doing his duty to help out my muse these past few months, keeping me up late and waking me early. So the poetry’s been fun.


  9. ..i’m so sorry to hear of your friend, how tragic with a new baby in the world….

    ..and this poem of yours, just wonderful poetry. .i’m not usually enthusiastic reading rhyme, but there was such a natural flow to yours i almost didn’t notice it..ty for talking about that ‘pure exhausted’ place when writing your poetry, it’s exactly what i’ve been experiencing these pas
    few months..sometimes i’ll wake to find words i have no recollection of writing..dies that hapoen to you also?

    • Thank you for reading and sharing.

      Rhyme, I can love and I can hate. If it’s superficial and artificial and tinny, like someone calling it true love for real this time for sure, when it’s only a big fan pretending to be the wind, then I can’t stand it and don’t understand why poets who should know better defend it. But watch the rhyming in a field of wheat blown by the wind or in a row of trees as a storm approaches, true rhyme as pure as the love in an act of selfless kindness, and what would be artificial would be to choose any word that does NOT rhyme. I don’t claim to get it right every time I rhyme, but watch for the wind to know I’m at least trying to breathe in sync with it. The wind, and the love.

      I often lose recollection of having written, yes. Often within minutes after writing.

      For me, what “helps” is the ways I keep notes and drafts. Since I obviously think a lot faster than I can write, I don’t get it all down in the notebooks, but I still get a lot of it. I never write on top of a draft, rather I copy each earlier draft and work a new draft off the copy, so usually have dozens of earlier drafts for any poem I settle on posting as final or near-final draft. I never erase ideas that don’t work out for a poem. I have hundreds of words of notes per word of poem, working through the ideas I’m trying to express. How all that “helps” when I feel that disassociative feeling like I’m someone else when I read some of what I’ve written, is that I can read back through the earlier drafts and the rejected lines and the background notes, and it helps me remember, like a photograph of my past would do.

      Oh, but those times I write even just a word or note, then can’t even remember doing that? Like when Denise shakes me awake and says I was crying or screaming in my sleep again and I can’t even remember the dream I was having? Like that? Yeah, I write like that all the time too. That’s one of the reasons all my very-first draft writing is all done by pen, by my own hand, not with a computer. So when I come back to myself, I know it was me who wrote it.


      • hhmm…so sorry for this tardy reply, still trying to decide what i could sacrifice in exchange for spending a week in that exquisite brain of yours…i do thank you for sharing so much of your writing process, especially the ‘not remembering’ and your personalized workaround penning in your own hand, ‘so you know it’s yours’. it certainly sounds as though you’ve been writing poetry for quite some time…yes, i keep all the words that arrive as a well, they come for a reason and that reason might not be what i’m writing at the time, they have and will be used at some point.

        and i would be remiss if i didn’t ty for finding ‘mirror’, i’d almost for gotten about that poem so i appreciate you bringing it into the light again.

  10. well, now you’ve gone and done it, given me another reason with a subtle sense of humor, my favorite kind, to like being here reading your poetry…

    i didn’t mention how this passage, removed a few bricks from the bias wall i’ve built towards rhyme,

    ‘But watch the rhyming in a field of wheat blown by the wind or in a row of trees as a storm approaches, true rhyme as pure as the love in an act of selfless kindness, and what would be artificial would be to choose any word that does NOT rhyme’

    ty.for that;

    and being that i’m quite attached to these appendages of mine (sorry), i will sacrifice a pint of Cherry Garcia ( this is big for me, trust me) for every day spent on the tour. if you have trouble getting in, i’ve heard there’s a secret entrance at the base of the castle near the rocky shoreline, we can gain access there. and by everything that’s holy in this world and the next, if tickets are offered to doctors, please overcharge them like they have us…and for what, really? .

    • Do know, I want use of rhyme to be balanced and temperate. I find Milton’s judgment of rhyme as “the Invention of a barbarous Age” to be far too harsh an indictment on Nature for giving us the idea in the first place. But neither do I defend nor appreciate the forced and stilted rhyming of doggerel, no matter how much more “honest” some support such weak rhyme to be.

      Actually, I consider myself to have been wrecked for life by Sara, my poet friend who was Iggy’s mother. Sara thought of words as all of distant kin when it comes to rhyme – like how you and I are related if we go back far enough, she saw all words as rhyming, some merely more closely than others. To a poet who feels a conventional rhyme set with a dozen words is not “free” enough, Sara thought it a rhetorical question to wonder if the set of suitable words for any given line’s end is any less restrictive by being what she saw as only more distantly rhymed. As poets, we still look for the “right” word – for that, the set of acceptable words is one, not twelve or large or infinite, strictly rhymed or not.

      Which doesn’t mean you get your ice cream back. ✒Cyn

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