Be Free–dVerse Meeting the Bar: Craft and Critique


I miss the you
you used to be
before your mind
took flight from me,

before dementia
had its way,
painting your world
in bleakest gray.

Where is the fragrance
that you wore,
or stories of
the world war

that took your loved one
from your side
leaving you widowed
alone, with child?

You still speak of
the love you found
a few years later
the second time round.

“The heart has room.”
you used to say,
“for second loves
and better days.”

Where is the joy
you brought to each—
your family and friends,
all those within reach

who found in you
both wisdom and grace?
You opened your heart,
with a smile on your face.

Do you remember
the parties you threw,
the mess the day after,
the hangovers, too?

The strength you found
when you joined AA?
Gratitude flooded
your life from that day.

I miss the you
you used to be.
I want you back,
I want you free.

I spent much of my nursing career working with patients who had dementia. This poem, written in the 2nd person,  is a response to the prompt over at dVerse.

Caring for a parentThis is very much a first draft and I welcome your critique.

I hope you’ll join us at the Poetry Pub where, today, I’m honored to be tending the bar.

Photo Source: geripal.com  Photographer not specified.

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48 thoughts on “Be Free–dVerse Meeting the Bar: Craft and Critique

  1. Hi, I’ve nominated you for the Blog Of The Year Award 2012!! Please check out my blog for more details!

    http://thebatamonblog.wordpress.com/

    Like

  2. dani says:

    beautifully written, Victoria!

    Happy Holidays!

    Like

  3. Jamie Dedes says:

    They rhthym is off and you can tell is still in draft form; but, Victoria, as it is, it’s brought me to tears. Wow! This is so very moving and something everyone can relate to.

    Like

  4. Thank you for the visit today.
    RYN: I feel guilty if he doesn’t get his walk as I’m sure they are the highlight of his day and, as the temps drop below zero soon and stay there he won’t be able to have any until (usually) at least mid April when the temps rise back up to zero again or, his feet would freeze if he was out there for too long. I could get him those leather bootie things but, it’s bad enough getting him to wear a coat and I’m not one for seeing animals wearing clothes…unless of course they are neccessary …lol

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  5. Sabio Lantz says:

    I’m back to give a non-poet, naive non-poetry-reader critique to a few verses:

    the third stanza’s rhythm seemed to stop. So let me experiment:

    the sweet perfumes
    you gracefully wore
    and your stories
    of the world war

    Fourth stanza: the question mark seems odd == but maybe I am missing something.

    Fifth stanza: again the rhythm is odd for me and you changed tense, it seems maybe like this:

    Your dear sweet songs
    of love you found
    in later years
    on the second round

    All my experimenting is very bold, of course, because you are a poet and I am an ignorami but thanx for letting me play. The exercise was useful to me, if not for you.

    Again, a very sweet tribute song. Thank you

    Like

  6. kaykuala says:

    Seen it first hand! My MIL is in the throes of such affliction. It dreaded one to realize that she’s a pale shadow of the person one used to know. It’s a painful journey! Thanks for sharing Victoria!

    Hank

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  7. A very poignant and effective use of the second person. Your poem really spoke to me as there is dementia in my family as well. Thanks!

    Like

  8. Mama Zen says:

    Beautifully written, Victoria!

    Like

  9. Neeks says:

    What a lovely poem. My grandfather had dementia for years before he passed, my mother and I took care of him. I remember the increasingly rare lucid moments. The fewer there were the more they alarmed him. It was sad.

    Like

  10. markwindham says:

    this is perhaps one of my greatest fears, to be the victim of this disease, or worse yet, to watch a loved one fall to it.

    Like

  11. MarinaSofia says:

    I think the gentle rhyming works very well with the topic, almost like a lullaby. However, there are some uneven rhythms, not sure if they are deliberate or not. I believe Becky commented on one stanza, that the final line feels too short.
    In this stanza as well:
    Where is the joy
    you brought to each—
    your family and friends,
    all those within reach

    The third line feels too long.
    But this is a subject very close to my heart (and very frightening to me) so I liked your lyrical treatment of it.

    Like

  12. beckykilsby says:

    I like that you have managed to write in a moving way but without sliding into excessive sentimentality. You’ve asked for crit and as a member of FEPC we shared some good discussions on our work. What struck me is that in a couple of places the meter is not quite regular.. this seems important as you have set yourself the task of a clear pattern from the outset. So, in this stanza:

    Where is the fragrance
    that you wore,
    or stories of
    the world war <this line feels short, something like 'the muddied war' would have the right syllable count (I'm not suggesting the word itself is an improvement)

    Hope that's helpful, V – I'm always open to leaving crit and welcome comments on mine any time.

    Like

  13. wolfsrosebud says:

    having been there with my dad… you’ve hit the nail on the head… sad but a reality… nothing should be taken for granted in this world

    Like

  14. kamana says:

    this is wonderful. really enjoyed this beautiful write.

    Like

  15. ManicDdaily says:

    Very sad poem, describes the emotions associated with this kind of loss so well. The simplicity of the lines works for you, and I liked the slannt rhymes as avoided what might have been too singsongy for your topic. k.

    Like

  16. hypercryptical says:

    A beautiful sensitive write Victoria and I love the wisdom in
    ““The heart has room.”
    you used to say,
    “for second loves
    and better days.””

    Dementia is a cruel thing and a strong theme of my workplace. It has been part of my home life for over fourteen years – longer if you count in my dear mum diagnosed in the early nineties who found her place in heaven in 2004.

    Anna :o]

    Like

  17. tremendous image & heart wrenching words right from the start –

    my own mom is 85 (soon 86) and i’m daily grateful for the measured remembrance she has 😉

    thanks so much Victoria

    Like

  18. Fred says:

    Victoria, such a strong piece. Really makes you feel the emotions here. What a great write. Thanks

    Like

  19. Terribly sad poem. From your poem I gleaned that the dementia was due to alcohol abuse. The ravages of drug abuse are now in epidemic proprtion throughtout the world. I admire anyone who cares for the sick and the frail. I am very pleased to say that at my sons school there was a compulsory study unit which entailed social service eg visiting the sick and aged in hopitals etc. Unfortunately some of the naughtier boys were found organising wheel chair races .They said the patients liked it. They were expelled of course!

    Like

    • Actually, the dementia is hereditary I’m afraid (is about my mother and her father and sister were both affected) My mom had a very brief stint with alcohol when my sister and I both left home the same year. She’s been sober since 1967. The AA program gave her so much that enriched her life. She has to be the most grateful person I know, even in the midst of the fog she’s going through now. As to wheel chair races…why didn’t I think of that when I worked in that environment? :0)

      Like

  20. This borke my heart, so very tender and touching and so very well written.

    Like

  21. Kelvin S.M. says:

    …this broke my heart Victoria… a real beauty of a well-inspired poetry… i once dreamt to be a nurse coz i want to care and understand people with disabilities/illnesses in life but unfortunately i went on doing taxes and accounting… hihi… thank you for a very touching read… and no… i won’t give any critique… i’m too young & less experienced so i’ll leave it to the experts… smiles…

    Like

  22. WabiSabi says:

    Beautifully written. I love the flow of this poem and so much that is written between the lines. You’ve written about a tragic illness but you’ve also told the story of the person who was before the illness came. Beautiful.

    Like

  23. Oh Victoria, this was so beautiful, so touching…. God bless you for writing so…Keep writing. Stay blessed.

    Like

  24. Bodhirose says:

    This scenario touches so many of us. I can only imagine the heartache that accompanies seeing someone you love slip away from you in their mind. I enjoyed doing the French Quaterns…have fun with that, Victoria.

    Like

  25. Your first verse is in iamb. But then you part from the rhythm scheme. I say you should not have. The first verse is a fine start on a poem.

    Like

  26. jmgoyder says:

    Love it and can relate.

    Like

  27. My grandmother died at 99 from complications related to Alzheimer’s. At our last visit she said, “I don’t know who you are, but I know I love you and you love me.” A beautiful moment!

    Like

  28. Grace says:

    I believed I have read this before Victoria and the words still resonate very deeply. I do like the first and last stanzas, locking with the heart felt line of missing the person ~

    Like

  29. Glenn Buttkus says:

    Agree that the rhyme kept the lines from wounding, but converted the message into lyrical moments of blinding melancholy; nice juxtaposition. At 68, dementia lurks for me and mine, and as a friend or colleague or family member surrenders to its withering, my breath comes in shorter gasps, my mind works double time to stay busy, to keep the synapse snapping, the cortex connected. Actually, I take IVIG for my CIDP, and just found out it is a miracle drug for preventing or curtailing dementia; thanks to the universe!

    Like

    • I’m 68, too. And the word “lurks” describes it so well. Especially with a family history. I remember I used to teach nursing assistants…our patients may not remember the past but we can provide them with a pleasant present moment. That’s all we have, isn’t it.

      Like

  30. Very emotional, it’s so difficult to watch a loved one suffer such a terrible disease, wonderful poem.

    Like

  31. rebecca2000 says:

    Beautiful and pulls on your heart strings.

    Like

  32. Miriam E. says:

    ““The heart has room.”
    you used to say,
    “for second loves
    and better days.””
    this moved me deeply and i thank you for it.
    beautifully written poem – you manage to give Dementia a ‘soft’ side… wonderful.

    Like

  33. brudberg says:

    This is much to the point. I love this, both form and content. Fits so well in 2nd person

    Like

  34. vivinfrance says:

    Victoria, you have written a fabulous poem here – addressing not one but several “you”s in heart-rending fashion.

    Like

  35. Dementia must be so very had on the person affected who knows there is ‘something’ not quite right, something missing and then slipping into it even further must be so difficult for their friends and family to see the person they love not recognising who they are anymore. This is so touching on many levels. Very tenderly told by you and who could fail to be moved.

    Like

  36. Tony says:

    OK – no-one else has commented on it so I will – the rhythm in this poem is fantastic. It keeps drawing the reader on, which helps to prevent the whole thing becoming maudlin. Dementia is serious – and not just for the person who suffers with it. It extracts a heavy toll on all who love them and knew them in better times.

    Like

  37. Teresa says:

    This is just amazing. There is such depth to the emotions.

    Like

  38. Laurie Kolp says:

    Heartfelt, Victoria. My grandmother suffered from dementia. It is such a horrible disease. Thanks for your wonderful prompt at dVerse.

    Like

  39. Mary says:

    This is excellent, Victoria. So poignant. It is so hard when dementia takes away so much of the person’s personhood. So very sad when the shell remains, but who the person is changes. And all the good times, the parties, the fun are only history! This poem makes me sad, but I know it is the reality a lot of people experience.

    Like

  40. claudia says:

    losing a people to dementia is so hard for the fam because the person is still there and yet is not… sensitive write victoria… fixed your link at dVerse..

    Like

  41. brian miller says:

    wow as powerful if not more so than your last…it feels much more personal as you are addressing the one that is going through it and you miss them…a lot of emotion comes through…painful to read….sad

    Like

  42. Victoria–this tugs on my heart strings, and is just beautifully written. My mother, when she could still speak, but barely, once told my stepdad she missed the way it used to be.

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