He sat on the sidewalk
in front of the old house,
running his hand over
the rough concrete.

A child’s wayward ball
bounces past,
visions of a robust life.

Memories settle into
the porous path like
the colored chalk
stains in the channels.

A child’s wayward ball
bounces past,
recollection of a strange life.

Recalling falling,
the frenzy of an attack,
surprise, fear
and a world shattered.

A child’s wayward ball
bounces past,
recalls pain of a normal life.

Fingertips release sublime
sensations; form and substance
found in faint histories hidden
beneath the hard surface.

A child’s wayward ball
bounces past.

It isn't everyday when you find a baseball lik...

For the Sunday Whirl

Shared at dVerse.



Filed under Poetry, Poetry - Prompts

28 responses to “Sidewalk

  1. very deep memories , love that you could write of it!

  2. magicalmysticalteacher

    Weaving the wayward ball into the refrain is a powerful way of stitching the poem together.

    Whirling with Richard Wright

  3. This is lovely, specially the variations in the refrain. You surely are growing in poetry.

  4. I like the varied repetitions and the building of hints at what the memory really is. Well done.

  5. Excellent, Mark. Love the repeated/varied refrain, especially. And this:
    “Recalling falling.” This reads deeps, a painful memory pulled reluctantly forward. Well done.
    PS: You need to fix the word “hand” in the third line (first stanza.) 😉

  6. I love that the words inspired you to write about sidewalks. I grew up at a lake in the country and we never had them. I live in the city now, and I love my sidewalks. They are a conduit for more than foot traffic. I see them the way you’ve written about them, a link for memories, good and bad, old and new. This is a beautiful poem!

  7. Love the sound here: “colored chalk stains in the channels”

    Great alliteration: “Fingertips release sublime sensations, form and substance found in faint histories hidden beneath the hard surface.”

    I was digging your repeated lines in italics, and then you went and lobbed off the end on the ending. That was awesome and abrupt, an unexpected twist that makes perfect sense.

    I set let the ball bounce on by and stop trying to remember. What on earth is wrong with us that we think we need to force blocked memories to resurface?! Our brain protects us by erasing. We recreate the damage by trying to remember. Bounce today’s ball, I say. And forget all the others—past and future. All there is, is today.


    Uh-oh. Someone needs a word list. Five days between posts? That is far too long, my friend. I’ll post one in an hour or so.

  8. I like the repeated refrain also. This has a sad feel to it of memories which are all too painful to remember and yet, cannot be forgotten:
    ‘Recalling falling,
    the frenzy of an attack,
    surprise, fear
    and a world shattered.’
    That says it all.
    Deep and powerful and lovely writing Mark.

  9. I was really drawn into this piece, perhaps it’s the comparison of ages and life-experiences in the poem. Memory is such a strong tool. Well done, Mark.

  10. What Mama Zen said, this is haunting … and well-written, especially. I love the repetition especially in the italics and especially that it’s not always exactly the same … gives it authenticity and depth. In my view, one of your finer pieces – and that’s saying something; you’ve written a lot of fine pieces …

  11. dang….it feels like something rather tragic happened…the attack…that changed mush so i find the refrain rather haunting…and progression of its changes….really nice touch always bringing us back…

  12. Mark, the refrain works beautifully here. Nice writing.


  13. Gay

    Repetition here is powerful. Ballplaying and watching ballplaying must be a particular rite of passage for men, it seems to stick to them and also stick them together – the stitching of a baseball is a good metaphor. Women hear men talking of baseball and statistics and players with friends, adversaries even enemies. We say, “why don’t you discuss those differences that divide you?” They say, “We just did”. …hmm. again — Powerful work employing a codified metaphor, I think.

  14. poemsofhateandhope

    Nice Mark- but very poignant and full of sadness- to sit and think about a childhood and it be full of painful reflection…..for me- the repetition and the ball bouncing past is significant- showing how often lives are damaged at maybe the most important part of being alive- well written my friend

  15. I really like this, Mark. It feels like a grasping for the why we are where we are; how did this happen, kind of thing. Excellent.

  16. I really liked this. The repested bits in italics work well. Its a thoughtful piece and the wordle words don’t stick out, but belong. 🙂

  17. I feel as if I am there sitting on his shoulder helping to take those steps back into the here and now after a fall because your words, spaced by your refrain give this poem the recurring sense of motion and its meaning. I feel the resounding and the sidewalk and the very minute that he is in the present and its memories and just watches the ball. Brilliant!

  18. Mark…this is just freaking awesome! That one phrase, such a powerful image, leads the entire piece. The rhythm of the words…I can see that as being one of those phrases that just keeps repeating itself in your head, until finally, all the words …fit perfectly. I think you’ve done a fantastic thing here…Bravo Poet!

  19. different flavours of journey
    finding unique perspectives
    as the ball passes

  20. This was too good, Mark. An excellent poem. It made me think about my own mortality. As I am in my 50’s now, I think about such things. A wonderful write, man. A wonderful write.

  21. The repetition works well in this…you leave the reader to ponder on what may have happened. I like that & the aura of mystery & mist that always surrounds recall of memory.

  22. “Memories settle into
    the porous path like
    the colored chalk
    stains in the channels.” wow!

  23. Very well written, leading us all to recall or re -visit our youth perhaps..this always happens to me when i watch kids play any all kind of sports…..

  24. Leo

    I think that wayward ball was part of the protagonist’s childhood. Perhaps, the last frame of an uncomfortable memory.. so the refrain feels uncomfortable a little. Well woven poem.. but poignant…


  25. Haunting and vivid, real imagery to bring these words home, and the refrain that keeps bouncing back just reinforces it all. Well done!

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

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