Pared Down

Pared Down

So, what if, in those days
when Despair walked her like a dog,
heeling her sternly,
one of those cabs she dashed in front of,
not exactly on purpose, but not looking both ways
when faced with any chance to dart away–
to bypass the silver flash of plate glass, to out-dive the splash of yellow
under white-skied sun, to feel, for a moment, lucky–
what if one of them had, in fact, crashed
and Despair smashed
into the tar, and even though lashed
to her same stretcher,
had ended up as hospital offal,

Would she then, after the long recovery,
the fitting of fiberglass or steel, the pairing
of the prosthesis–
would she then, nights,
after its pegged bulk had been unbuckled, bedside,
long for you–
I’m talking to you directly now, Despair–
Would she feel, in the flat vacancy below the sheet, down comforter,
your abscessing absence–
Would she, wakeful
in the ache cast by your phantom, prop herself up,
and not quite able on crutches to feel her way, still search
by window’s glow, 
some bottle of balm or pill–
something that might kill pain
from afar, a heat-seeking missile

And what if, by some strange happenstance, you, Despair–
that limb that is so much a part
of her given form–were restored–
the despaired-of calf reattached, the rank ankle knobs
Would she now dog you? Trot gamely by
your re-joined gait even as you heeled her sternly,
after, that is, you held her close–


Here’s a sort of poem for the “play it again, Sam” prompt on With Real Toads, hosted by Margaret Bednar.  Margaret gives a choice of certain past prompts–the one I chose was by Kerry O’ Connor to write a labyrinthine/mazelike poem (hopefully influence by Borges.)   The picture is another recycled one, I’m afraid–called “between a rock and a hard place. ”  (All rights reserved, as always.) 

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28 Comments on “Pared Down”

  1. stillight Says:

    Beautiful poem. I love your art work too.

  2. brian miller Says:

    well, i wonder if she felt relief of that limb called despair…if all the rest would not be worth it…sometimes it takes something huge to put into perspective things…but…

  3. mood wings Says:

    “heeling her sternly” … This is my favorite line because it makes me apply the homophone as well (healing). And I rather like the notion.

  4. Jim Says:

    I liked the name you picked, it holds a lot of meaning in the one word, Despair. The dog walking is clever too. Just one nice neat poem.

  5. Bodhirose Says:

    Made me think that indeed Despair can keep you on a short leash. Heavy emotion in this…”abscessing absence”…whew…

  6. Sumana Roy Says:

    a superb beginning that gradually grabs the reader into the labyrinth of ‘what if’ and ‘would’ to find the way out for themselves…a lot to ponder over….

  7. Marian Says:

    wow, love this. waiting for the zombies to show up. kinda. really though, i like the direct addressing of despair and the series of what-ifs, what if? yes, what if? very nice.

  8. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I have read many poems on the subject of depression and despair, but none, I think, which so moves me as this description – the cure, a loss of limb; the dependency on a state on mind so dogged as to demand reattachment.

    As I read your work, I am constantly aware of how significant a poet you are of our times, Karin.

  9. Kim Says:

    Typically not a fan of “what ifs,” I found this delightful to read. And here is a link to make you smile. This little bundle was born very near me last week:

  10. grapeling Says:

    I’m familiar with that dog walker, of late. Always appreciate your acuity, k ~

  11. This is an amazing piece. So effective to speak directly to despair. This is worth at least a 4 star WOW

  12. margaret Says:

    despair – hard to leash it, hard to escape it for some… heavy poem but with a bit of a breeze to it… a possibility of escape, perhaps.

  13. hedgewitch Says:

    I really am amazed with how well you took the parameters of Kerry’s challenge(she does such great ones) and ran with it, into the labyrinth of all labyrinths, despair with a capitol D–such a physical presence that it seems a body part, so persistent that even amputation only increases its power–I especially like the tortuous ending, where the narrator struggles to somehow turn the tables–how successfully is moot, perhaps that’s all the control that can be had. Very fine, intelligent and incisive writing, k.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. Kerry’s challenge was wonderful–they are typically–all of the repeats were good–yours and Shay’s too, of course, but I realized I had done those. k .

      On Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 7:16 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


  14. “Despair walked her like a dog” There is so much in those six words alone..You have taken this piece deep into the labyrinth…amazing piece

  15. Brendan Says:

    Somehow the maze is the blind confusion of passage, walls where there should be halls, the breath of the black entity dogging our heels, etc. That’s the image I get from the first part. But by posing the question the mythologem and narrative device are inverted, so that instead we’re looking down at a labyrinth going oh yeah, I see it, and the dog of depression is now tended by the depressed one. A matter of perspective, and a fragile one, like a dream, that quickly fades back into “reality” — it’s not all that different a passage, just reversed in structure, depression become the tended, afflicted one, tstill bonded though by an awareness that we aren’t that dissimilar or distinct from our obsessions and depressions. I mean, who would we be without them? Sorry if I missed the mark, “abcessing absence” is what made it all for me anyway. Love the illustration as always.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thank you, Brendan, for your thoughtful reading. I tend to be much more obvious and literal (I might say, plodding), but I certainly was really thinking of the connection between one’s self and these approaches to life that are often parts of one’s self too. Thanks. k.

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