UKArchive ID: 35560By One's Own Hand by gothicman
Originally published on October 5, 2015 in Poetry        

why solitude in Nature is so appealing now

I've met many
cut down in time, held back
before the tentative fall
successfully emptied
stemmed from emptying
damaged, patched and delivered
back to square one

I've read their notes, anecdotes
letters of goodbye, of resignation
scribbled obituaries, epitaphs
obsessions, confessions
listened to explanations
seen tears of regret
tears of joy from being a failure

their anger
at parent, lover, partner, friend
at physician, admission
at being saved
at their proof of incompetence
at the saviour's insufficient display
of dismay

I've seen what love, loneliness
mobbing, aging, craving, visions of doom
incessant pain, hoping in vain
does to us all
to some, more so

For others
living the good life
was just too blasé
having had and done everything
wondering where not living would lead
envious, curious, furious
of/at what only the dead might know

A retired friend
medical expert in forensic explosives
had it easier
piecing together filtered bits
of disintegrated hate
DNA without humbled eyes or
outstretched hands
still clutching broken straw


© gothicman (Gothicman on OLD UKA)
UKArchive ID: 35560
Archived comments for By One's Own Hand
gwirionedd on 05-10-2015
By Ones Own Hand
Wow! This is brilliant, mate! The best piece of yours that I've read so far. It's really touching. The wisdom of a man who must have witnessed (although not literally) many suicides.

Have you really encountered so many cases of it?

Yes, life is tough because of all the reasons you mentioned, and all these reasons can lead to suicidal thoughts.

"I've seen what love, loneliness
mobbing, aging, craving, visions of doom
incessant pain, hoping in vain
does to us all
to some, more so"


I'm not sure I understand the final verse. But the rest of it definitely gets me. Fave story.

Author's Reply:
Sorry Archie for the delay, I've been in Stockholm. Yes, unfortunately, Archie, about 3-5 a month over 15 years on average with seasonal variations; only survivors.
Thanks for your very praising and encouraging comments, and considering it a fave! Much appreciated.

ifyouplease on 06-10-2015
By Ones Own Hand
very very deep, fave too.

Author's Reply:
Thank you so much, IYP, yes, trying to include much of this complex behaviour, to highlight the sheer diversity of methods involved and chosen, which in themselves are not random, but like most things are steered by deterministic principles to do with emotional states and effect intentions, violent deaths steered by hate and anger to self or other, peaceful passive deaths steered by resignation, feeling of low self-worth etc. All this concordance confirmed by letters and verbal report. But can't make it all too complicated in poetry form!
Thanks for making it a fave, means a lot knowing it's chosen by someone of your literary calibre!

stormwolf on 06-10-2015
By Ones Own Hand
Wonderfully all encompassing and deeply insightful Trevor. You have excelled yourself once more.

Alison x

Here's a nom to go with it. 😉

Author's Reply:
Thank you, Alison, for your encouraging praise and the nom. Tried to keep it as encompassing as possible, but tight and concise at the same time. We're a diverse lot we poor mortals, so many challenges, vital choices, pitfalls, minefields etc
to contend with, makes you wonder why so many survive the full course! Thanks again.
Trevor x

Bozzz on 07-10-2015
By Ones Own Hand
A truly brilliant piece, Trevor, Takes me back a bit to WW2 in the RAF. I had to get used to seeing the bloody pieces of my friends scattered across the Burmese jungle. Had to be first on the scene at crashes near the airfield and as our wooden mosquito planes were not built to withstand the heat and humidity they overheated and literally fell apart during take-off, there were plenty. The police have to do similar things regularly, but as you suggest, when the victims are your personal friends, it is significantly different. My best, David

Author's Reply:
Thank you, David. Yes that's the distinction I was trying to allude to in the last stanza, it's vastly more harrowing to see known acquaintances and friends meeting explosive violent deaths while trying to make the world a better place than feeling aroused being confronted by evil violent indiscriminate terrorists one has never met or had any common sympathy or allegiance with. But, I suppose seeing dead dismembered bodies of comrades, now beyond help, brings feelings more of immensely-sad loss and meaningless waste, whereas seeing demoralised, totally emotional vulnerable and humbled friends or any fellow human beings awakens feelings of sympathy and compassion, with strong inclination to help them survive, resolve their problems and recover, especially if physically injured as well? Yes the living are still very much interacting with us, faced with the dead we'r only interacting within our selves, with our own reactions. Police, firemen, ambulance crews, all meet harrowing scenes regularly, now thankfully more and more are getting therapeutic debriefing directly afterwards to prevent delayed or suppressed after-effects.
Thanks David,

gwirionedd on 11-10-2015
By Ones Own Hand
Ah, now I understand, the last verse refers to people who blow themselves up, namely suicide bombers...

Perhaps you could make it a bit clearer, something like:

"still clutching the broken straw
of the trigger mechanism"

or something?

Author's Reply:
It just happens that the retired friend had the extreme job of working with not recognisable dead bodies, just small bits and pieces of people whose actions one normally find despicable so not likely to awaken much compassion, especially if taking innocent bystanders, women and children with them. He has avoided people referred to in the last lines, suicidal survivors, who are still real, fully interacting fellow human beings, who on first contact usually show a feeling of being humbled by their intended actions after all hope and help appeared to be nothing more than "clutching at straws" as this idiom is interpreted. This emotionally-loaded contact with for all purposes fully-functioning fellow human beings makes it far harder for the person trying to help to do his/her job, one is of necessity personally affected and to succeed how you approach giving help demands strict professionalism.
There are always going to be readers who cannot grasp the less than directly explained rendition of something one has written, even when not seriously cryptic.

gwirionedd on 11-10-2015
By Ones Own Hand
Well, I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one who didn't get the suicide-bomber reference.

People often pretend to understand what they read. But I don't.

Author's Reply:
Forensic explosives is the give away + piecing together filtered bits
of disintegrated hate. I found a human hair in my sandwich the other day, didn't say much to me as a personal relationship, but finding a complete living person in your soup would require personal interaction to resolve why!