Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Betrayal

It happened one Christmas day after his divorce,
the time of year when spiritual sores grow
and rarely heal. Grandmother’s kitchen windows
fogged from the cooking. I'd have inscribed
secret signs in the moist clarity,
but all the secrets had finally drained away
like dirty water in the sink.

Maybe he'd been drinking all night. Maybe he
was sucked empty by working double shifts for a month.
Whatever, it was ugly and mean and hateful and he spewed
it at life and spawn. The unspoken betrayal spiraled
like a worm in the gut or black bird of prey in the air.
He went for the gun in his room and brought it out
like times before, but now he wanted to do himself.
Violent sorrow swelled his threat, eyes as red
as a cold and meaningless news statistic.

He walked to the barn with my Grandfather pleading
behind him to give up the gun. I let them go.
A part of me dead to the pain, to life, to survival.
We didn't talk, my sister or grandma. We waited.
When grandpa came back with the gun,
I think my father's eyes showed it then, that
sign of betrayal the years carve in memory.

In dreams he brings the gun. I wake and hear
him climbing the walls to my bedroom window.
Conscious of my betrayal, I am thankful for the bullet.

(c) copyright 2012 Charles David Miller. All rights reserved.

This unpublished poem was written ca. 1999. I've submitted it as part of the poetry prompt at


  1. Wow. Dark, intense--a powerful piece. The last line especially is fantastic. The narrator's voice is vivid and strong. Great job! And thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow.....
    (sorry that's all I got right now)

  3. A poem of great feeling and intensity. The story makes me sad, and I hope he is ok.

  4. My jaw's hanging... but I can say I loved the first sentence and every single word thereafter. The ending is intense.

  5. add a third wow! here charles - this was powerful!


    "I wake and hear
    him climbing the walls to my bedroom window..."

    and to end with thankfulness for the bullet, man...if this was real, then my deep sympathies for all

    if fictional, you've probably done a huge good for many a soul out there...

    thank you charles

    1. Thank you, Adan, for your words. The poem is very literal. I really appreciate your last words, since I thought a lot about why to publish this or not.

  6. A part of me dead to the pain, to life, to survival....and the last part esp. hit me in the have no idea how much i can feel this... this is a wonderful, honest and raw piece charles..also like the painting on the fogged window - sets the stage perfectly for all that follows..

  7. snap do a great job telling the story, but it is your ability to make us feel it that sets this apart for me....ugh...def carries a punch...some great visuals as well...puts us right there.....great piece charles....

  8. I feel your pain in this, Charles. Thanks so much for sharing it with me on Twitter. I'm always left speechless when reminded of the fact that I am not unique. I'm not sure why, but this part especially sings to me - a viceral effect of sorts:

    I'd have inscribed
    secret signs in the moist clarity,
    but all the secrets had finally drained away
    like dirty water in the sink.

  9. Powerful feelings...resigned to the painful scene that has played out on the edge. I can relate.

  10. Told in painful clarity with a ringing authenticity - there is a depth of sadness here Charles that takes real courage to write - thank you; it does help to know that others walk the razor's edge ... and are willing to articulate their experience

  11. Amazing poem.....liked it very much...

  12. This is very powerful writing. It gripped from the first line and didn't let up. I can' t think of anything else quite like it.

  13. I think my fathers eyes showed it then..that sign of betrayal..
    I suppose one must learn to forgive others and oneself as well. Easier said than done.A moving personal poem that I am sure many will relate to.

  14. Best thing you've written - hands down. This had me all the way through - such a sad sad story so beautifully and brutally portrayed. Probably say this all the time- but this is poetry- pure raw human emotion. This genuinely touched me.... phenomenal

  15. I can't add, only echo: powerful, brutal, terrifying. Beautiful language. I think i'd be grateful for the bullet, too. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  16. From @velvetinapurrs via Twitter and at her request

    Outside, I am dusk gathering, in oak arm's cradle, with a bright benign moon, listening to owls, but I hear only your poem, as night closes in..what can I say to this suffering? A brave brave poem..other's scars can cast razor shadows, burdens of responsibility, you do not deserve..a healing poem I hope for thee

  17. Written from the gut..Chaz...I salute your brave write...Chills down to my toenails...Bravo!