“The Thing on the Ground”

(c) 2017 by Michael L. Utley

There—the thing on the ground
Some insect or other
A leg detached
Dragged off by ants

It kicks in stupid
Futile spasms
Insectoid mind buzzing in
Some alien tongue
Antennae crippled

I step closer
Hovering above
As this pedestrian drama plays
Below me

“Jump, damn you!
Save yourself,
Worthless grasshopper!”

I am strangely furious at this
Pathetic thing
This helpless thing
As it dies before my eyes

“Get up! Jump!”

I feel the sting of salt
In my eyes
The tears that have
Abandoned me for eons
Doubling the writhing thing
On the ground
Trebling it in a
Saline blur

It gazes dumbly
At the sky
The clouds
The sun
All too busy in their
Mindless journey above
To notice what’s below

Another spasm
Another kick
A pebble bounces away
Mandibles scream in
Silent rage

I close my eyes
I see her
The one I couldn’t save
The doomed, damned one
Who finally broke me in two
The crippled one too far gone
The one who dragged me to the brink
And jumped

Too late

I open my eyes

The ants have returned
The thing on the ground
Kicks languidly
A shudder
A twitch

The ants swarm

23 thoughts on ““The Thing on the Ground”

  1. rajkkhoja

    Beautiful title ” The Thing on the ground”
    So inspiring words write upin poem.
    “I see her
    The one I couldn’t save
    The doomed, damned one
    Who finally broke me in two
    The crippled one too far gone
    The one who dragged me to the brink
    And jumped” so amazing written lines. I like.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your nice comment. This is a poem about a girl I knew years ago. She had a lot of problems and refused to seek help for them. Watching her suffer was so painful, but there was nothing I could do because she didn’t want any help. Life is difficult for all of us, but there’s help available if only we accept it. Thanks again for reading and commenting, my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Filipa. I’m currently in a fallow period as far as writing goes, so I was looking through my folder of old poems from years ago to see if there were any I might want to post just to remain somewhat active on my blog. This is from 2017 and refers to a previous relationship I had with someone who had a lot of issues but who refused any sort of help. I felt powerless to do anything for her because she was so adamant about not seeking therapy. It caused the demise of our relationship, and all these years later I have no idea what happened to her, if she’s still alive, if she sought help after all, if she’s happy and healthy… Not knowing is incredibly painful because she meant more to me than anyone I’ve ever known. Anyway, it’s an odd poem from a difficult time in my life. Thanks for your kindness, Filipa. Hopefully new material will appear soon. I’ve missed you, too! 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Oh, Mike, I can not imagine your pain! Unfortunately, if people don’t want to be helped, there’s nothing we can do. Lately, I’m feeling very tired. The last months have been hard. I lost two very important people. I need time to heal. Take care! 💙 Be happy! 😊

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks for your kind thoughts. Sometimes small events in nature can be a microcosm or apt analogy of things we’re experiencing in our lives at the time. This poem refers to a past relationship with a girl who had a lot of problems but who refused to seek help. Witnessing her deterioration was such a helpless feeling, knowing there was nothing I could do to make things better for her. It was both terrifying and sorrowful. Mental illness can be treated, but some people–for whatever reasons–refuse to avail themselves of that help. All these years later, I still think about her and hope she’s all right, still alive, healthy and happy and at peace with herself. Thanks again for reading and commenting. Much appreciated. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so much for the background on the poem, the reader has to try and understand their response as well as the poets intentioned meaning, which can be a daunting task, … I add my hopes to yours that she has found help with her problems and is settled and happy. It was a pleasure to read and comment, in fact very much so. ✨Penn✨

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks a bunch, Peggy. This is an older poem from my poetry folder. I’ve been silent for too long due to writer’s block and I wanted to post something to remain active on my blog. This poem about someone I loved who suffered from mental illness is quite dark but it holds a lot of meaning for me. It’s devastating to watch someone we love suffer needlessly because of fear of seeking therapy, whether it’s for personal or cultural reasons. There was nothing I could do, and she disappeared from my life and I have no idea if she ended up taking her life or if she finally sought help for her problems. Not knowing is agonizing. It’s been years now but still I think of her often and hope she’s okay. As always, thanks so much for your constant support and kindness. I really appreciate it, and I’m always delighted to see you stop by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The not knowing is the hardest part of letting people get close and then losing touch. Most of us have someone that “slipped through our fingers” and we wish we could find them or at least know what happened to them.
        Mike, your poetry brings me balance. I tend to push away sad feelings, saying “I’m ok,” but not really acknowledging them. I read your poems and allow those feelings to come back to life and address them. Thank you so much for sharing your feelings with all of us.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Kindest thanks, Peggy. Your comment really touched me. I write what I know, and sometimes I worry that it’s too melancholic or that people will consider me too negative, but as a writer I feel like I must write what’s inside. It helps me deal with my own sorrows, fears and regrets, and I also know that I’m not the only one in this world who suffers from the human condition–we all do. Knowing that perhaps my words may resonate with someone else and somehow bring solace or peace or the sense of not being all alone is always on my mind when I write. I want people to know we’re all in this together and we all share so much as humans. I’m so grateful to know that my poetry means something to you and helps you in some small way. Thanks so much for this. It’s really made my day. I don’t smile a whole lot, but I’m smiling as I type this. Much appreciated, my friend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Cindy. It’s a pretty dark piece, for sure. It’s difficult to watch someone suffer because that person doesn’t want or won’t accept help. It leaves you with a profound sense of powerlessness. It hurts. I hope she’s found her peace. Thanks for your support, my friend. Much appreciated. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It truly is I agree and I see it often. I love the metaphor you used. It is painful for sure. You were very descriptive which gave your poem the power it was deserving of. We can’t let these people have power over us however! ❣️

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I am in awe of this beautiful and incredibly powerful poem, Mike! There is nothing that shatters the heart more than the feeling of helplessness that engulfs us when we cannot do anything for someone who is suffering so miserably. The imagery in these lines, in particular, is both haunting and impressively moving,
    “I feel the sting of salt
    In my eyes
    The tears that have
    Abandoned me for eons
    Doubling the writhing thing
    On the ground
    Trebling it in a
    Saline blur”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Aaysid, for your thoughtful take on this piece. I was hesitant about publishing it–it’s an older poem (2017) and I was unsure if anyone would understand the metaphor or appreciate the rather disturbing imagery. You’re right, of course: that feeling of powerlessness–that inability to help someone who’s hurting–can inflict permanent damage onto someone’s heart. All these years later, I still feel as though I let her down in some way, despite the the fact that I did everything humanly possible to help her. She refused help due to cultural taboos surrounding mental illness, as well as fear of losing all she had if she sought treatment. So, she slipped away and I’ll never know what became of her. Poetry can be cathartic, but it can also be painful for the poet to relive unpleasant memories. Thanks a bunch for your kind words, as always. It means a lot to me to know someone understood this piece. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am so sorry that you had to go through that, Mike. I am sure you must have done everything to help her, but sometimes, we really cannot do much except for being there for them for as long as they would let us. I agree with you; poetry can be quite painful at times.

        Liked by 1 person

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