The Front Room










The front room was always
the domain of my father.

The rules were clear
when we were children,
if the door was closed
he was working, you
had best be quiet.

I would sit and watch
him through the glass
panes, wondering what
he did behind that big desk.

After retirement, it became
his TV room — no sports
were allowed on the living
room screen — complete
with recliner and mini-fridge.

Devoid of furniture, scars
of time and memory were
clearly evident; scuff marks
from the desk, sun-faded outlines
of table and chair, cigar burns
and smoke-yellow walls.

It was the only room she cried in
when we moved her out.

Written for the Tuesday Tryouts with Margo Roby.


Filed under Poetry, Poetry - Prompts

14 responses to “The Front Room

  1. Oh! Those last lines are stunning. Powerful and sad.

  2. I was also thinking about loss, death, I thought that could have been one of the reasons for my speaker’s inability to escape. I keep trying to see a beginning in this painting, but all I see is the end.
    This sudden shift from Him and children to Her is very moving, speaks so much.

  3. Oh, wow, Mark those last two lines the perfect punch! Well done!

  4. I liked the feel of the whole poem, then, yes, those last two lines: powerful.
    This has been a popular painting.

  5. /running out of adjectives for remarks for you oh wait….. Stupendous!

  6. I enjoyed how you write about the father via his room. The ending was surprising.

  7. One suggestion. “devoid” might be a little passive. It perfectly describes the painting, but something of a forced emptying, a stripping, might be an added layer for the poem without the illustration. Does that make sense?

    • Thank you, and it does make sense. ‘Empty’ was the first word I had there and wanted a replacement. I agree, an action rather than descriptive would work better; emptied, or stripped or cleared. Always love feedback and suggestions!

  8. Ina

    Hi Mark, this is a great poem, lovely.

  9. rosemary mint

    It was so effective to describe the room and the rules in detail but leave the ending lines wrapped in brevity and impact:

    “It was the only room she cried in
    when we moved her out.”


Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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