Inside Things

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Inside Things

They don’t tell you, you see
about the things
the inside things
the real things
the things that matter
they hold them in, you see
to trick you

Those apocryphal angels
obscuring truth
hiding the meaning of life
pointing you this way
pointing you that
but don’t let out the things
that matter

Life isn’t real
it’s about what you feel
and they laugh
they laugh when you feel
and make you think
life isn’t real
That you shouldn’t feel

And so those hordes
those denizens of deceit
have stolen you
stolen your inside things
locked them in a dusty trunk
in the attic
marred only by your tiny fingerprints

And you, alone
thoughts roaming
selfish pig!
How dare you feel?
How dare you need?
How curdled this bile they puke on you

But you were there once
so long, long ago
stooping in that tiny attic
knees finding splinters in the wood
touching that great black trunk
breathing its moldy waft
your hands and eyes but a childs

Oh, those treasures within-
inside that trunk
a lost life
memories gone rancid
gathering dust
alone in the attic
mere traces of someone’s heart

Your eyes ablaze
senses attuned
as you rape those memories
defile that lost soul trapped there
steal the thing he once was
and can never be again
that part of him locked away, gathering dust

To think of him
another man
another time
another place
and that he once had feelings
the deceivers laughed at him too
and so locked him away

And there you sat
a child rummaging that trunk
a mantle clock
a photo or two
an old Army uniform
moth-eaten and stinking
He lived then, but a thousand lifetimes before

And so how could it be?
This young soldier, your father
who wound his clock
and gazed his photos
loved and laughed
before you knew him, a thousand lifetimes ago
he had feelings too

But he was locked away
another time, another man
whom he can never be again
the demons laughed at him
and expelled him to this trunk
his young heart, his lost feelings
and left him just a shell, the man you knew

And so where are you now
how have you come to be
that same man?
living, loving, lost
feelings sprouting from your core
another trunk, another attic
your young heart locked away forever

And will another child come?
Scrape his knees on a bit of plywood plank
bump his head on a short rafter
to find you, alone
gathering dust in a trunk
your cares and your feelings growing yellow
age losing you, leaving you just a shell

And what would you tell that child?
what note to lay
beside the tokens of your life?
Tell him to care?
To feel, to love, to share?
or just to be aware
of the demons lying snare?

Or tell him to hide them-
those inside things
never let anyone see
those feelings that don’t belong
not to you, not to me
harden your heart
or end up like me

The best part of me
locked away with trinkets
mere novelties of my life
a love, my life, you
a time ago, elsewhen
I loved you so
And I still do

I would tell that child to love
to laugh
to wonder
to see
what your love
has done for me……….
It’s worth a thousand trunks, and a thousand years

© 2011 John Richter


About johnallenrichter

I am an aspiring Poet and adorer of life, a conqueror of nothing. However I am a champion curator of truth and friendship and hold both of those things most dearly to my heart. Welcome to my mind's eye. I hope you will enjoy what you may find and please know that you have a friend here. View all posts by johnallenrichter

41 responses to “Inside Things

  • claudia

    yes – i would tell that child to laugh, to wonder, to see as well and it IS worth a thousand trunks and a thousand years…it is…and thanks for your nice words about dVerse and your nice mail this morning…you’re awesome

  • brian miller

    wow man this is a wicked write…felt…the devils laughing at what you are feeling, i felt that…real…been there…the telling of the child there in the end…it would be not to hide away these things but share them…share them with those that will treat them in kind…

  • Margaret

    This young soldier, your father
    who wound his clock
    and gazed his photos
    loved and laughed
    before you knew him, a thousand lifetimes ago
    he had feelings too

    What a lesson … we need to stop the cycle – make sure our children know us properly. Let the past go, live for the NOW and don’t ever forget how to laugh and enjoy life. Yes, soldiers see a lot and many die wanting to live. It is sad when those that do live forget how to… Very provocative write…

  • Randy Behavior

    “Life isn’t real
    it’s about what you feel
    and they laugh” Insightful.

  • Shawna

    This stanza was incredibly powerful, John:

    “Your eyes ablaze
    senses attuned
    as you rape those memories
    defile that lost soul trapped there
    steal the thing he once was
    and can never be again
    that part of him locked away, gathering dust”

    I loved the raping memories line. How vivid and apt, the way we forcefully thrust our penetration into the past, all the while our weakened minds fighting and scratching to keep us locked out.

  • Louise

    Oh, so true. A vivid write…I’ve so been there…kept feelings locked away in a trunk for a long time. Your last stanza says it all…’tell that child to love’ …sigh

  • Adura Ojo

    Deep and thought provoking, John. It’s sad that wisdom and age aren’t as appreciated and celebrated as they should be. And when we don’t value the person and all we see is a shell, it is a rape and a defilement of them. The wisdom in your lines…most appreciated.

  • zumpoems

    This is such an important topic and, to be honest, one I hadn’t reflected on in terms of the opportunities for education that most parents miss in raising children and talking about the importance of feelings and viewpoint and the transience of the material world items.

    This reads through very smoothly with such a strong message delivered by someone with the wisdom from the journey — now looking back! Really enjoyed this!

  • willowdot21

    Life is so deep and confusing , the answer lies hidden in the trunk upstairs in the dusty attic!

  • tashtoo

    John…this is a breath-taking write, I’m seriously still holding mine! I would tell that child one more thing…write it down! All the good, all the bad, all the hope, joy and love that he or she is to know. So easy to forget when they insist on keeping feelings locked up. A wonderful share Poet!

  • Voyages Vistas Vino

    Great poem John and you are right about as well. Thank you for commenting on “A Deck of Cards” at

    You nailed the essence of the poem!

  • hobgoblin2011

    What a wonderful piece John. Your summation there pretty much says it perfectly. But throughout the piece, there was touches of sadness that lingered, sadness simply for the circumstance. You did a great job playing on emotion and leading the questions/thoughts throughout the write. Very much glad I had the opportunity to read it. Thank you.

  • Pat Hatt

    Wow epic write this week, emotions ran high and so agree let it out, no sense keeping everything bottled up, even if one has to rant to themselves, just make sure no one else is listening or you might seem a tad crazy..haha

  • manicddaily

    Very lovely poem–so wonderful at the end, the second to last stanza–the discovery of love, elsewhen. Love all the planks and splinters around the trunk–wonderful to have those physical details.

  • liv2write2day

    Wow, John. This reads to me as though you’ve written a whole philosophy of life…our journey to uncover who we really are. This deserves another read or more and some time to reflect. Wonderful.

  • Heaven

    Terrific engaging and powerful write, my friend. The father’s sad soulful story, the son, and rounding back to the young child. I like that trunkful of memories, sad and hopeful and always seeking for truth ~

    And thanks for your lovely compliment in my blog…. you are sweet ~

  • hedgewitch

    An amazing true to the heart write, John. The images just rang with emotion and caring, despite all “they” do to eradicate such things from us, flatten life, make us cloned producers with no mouths or hearts—you can tell I liked this, not least the masterly way you used repetition to hammer away at your points.
    “pointing you this way
    pointing you that
    but don’t let out the things
    that matter…”

  • colleen

    The inner life is hidden. What are we so afraid of?

  • oceangirl

    I see the child, the attic, I want to take him away. The poem is so detailed and so true.

  • Sarah Johnston

    what an amazing poem and I would tell this child to love, to see, to speak and to feel she needs to know what it is to be loved and to express her feeling openly

  • apoetryman

    What a wonderfule description of memories, a life lived and of humanity and love.

  • jenneandrews

    A number of imploding meanings to this rich poem, John– our inheritances do make us ache: I love these lines:

    And so those hordes
    those denizens of deceit
    have stolen you
    stolen your inside things–

    the notion of the inside things and from this I sense a take on what we do to our male children at least in the West– we teach them to stifle, hold back, be so brave and unflappable…xxxj

  • Ravenblack

    Much of what is taught is not to trust, to think for yourself, to keep yourself and to guard against things, all this serves to imprison oneself. Suspect all and in the world becomes dim also. Inside things kept inside slowly buried so deep one forgets things that matter — to love, to laugh, to wonder. There’s a sense the narrator has gone down that way and ended up somewhat bitter and harden, and then rediscovered and saw himself and now shares this important message. Awesome write, really enjoyed reading this.

  • patriciaspreng

    Goodness… I was captured in this beautiful writing. First I wanted to yell at the scoffers and demons, then I wanted to protect the child and then I felt like I was the child kneeling on the splintered attic wood… peering into the trunk, rummaging for something, anything to give meaning, or permission to freely live. I’m so glad you found your pen in that trunk John. I think that child is still in all of us… and so I take the words to the child to heart for myself (and you) to love, laugh, wonder and I would need to add “sing”…
    to hell with the demons…it’s where they belong.

  • ayala

    I would tell that child to love
    to laugh
    to wonder
    to see
    what your love
    has done for me……….
    It’s worth a thousand trunks, and a thousand years

    I love this, John. Beautiful!
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment and your prayers.

  • SuzyQ

    I felt such emotion in these beautifully wrought stanzas.
    The last one is simply captivating.

  • James Rainsfordj

    Authentic and moving. Some of your images will live long in my poetic memory. Thank you for sharing.

  • Steve E

    Liking this piece a thousand times over. Yes, that final stanza…and I would add, telling the child, “I will be with you through thick and thin. Just call my name and I shall appear in some manner…maybe an old Army jacket, or a photograph, at least a memory! This…No Matter What!.”

    Thank you for a VERY thought-filled poem, John A.R.

  • Gay Reiser Cannon

    Personal symbolism realized in the passages and rites given to the next generation; not articulated rather found, articulated, digested anthropologically instead of being freely shown and expressed one generation to the next. Much truth in this piece, and much wonder.

    I would say (and do) to the next generations to ‘live forward’, not dwell in the “what was” but await with innocence and wonder what is “still to be” and know that right now “is the good old days”!

  • Kay Salady

    You’ve left behind a legacy within a poet’s lines
    and opened up a once closed trunk that others left behind.

    Absolutely beautiful! ♥

  • Lori McClure (@lorimcspeaks)

    Did you write this for me? (lol) Wow, this is amazing. Such a struggle I always have not to throw away the parts of me that seem frivolous on certain days. But, without those feelings, those expressions, those bright moments, I would be a dark, dark soul. I want to thank you for taking the time to write such a kind comment my way. It was incredibly helpful to hear your thoughts. Thank you for your generosity of time and understanding 🙂

  • Anna Montgomery

    “Our culture does everything it can to discourage us from becoming aware of our inner life. It’s considered a waste of time, a distraction from the really important things. There are no rewards for contemplation. You don’t get degrees, promotions, bonuses. In fact, we are taught to be as externally oriented as possible; every sense we have is flooded with beckonings from the outside world.” – Dawna Markova

  • Mary

    I am coming to this poem late, John. Life has been a bit busy. Wonderful poem. Strong lesson; and it is obvious that the poem resonated with so many. Yes, the child should love, laugh, and wonder!!! I think we should all make sure all the children in our lives know the importance of these things.

  • kaykuala

    I would tell the child that there is a whole process of life. The learning and the giving to connect to the parents, old soldier or otherwise!. Great!


  • KC Oliver

    A very thought provoking piece. Fantastic!

  • edpilolla

    i too used to be a man i can never be again. i remember him well.
    truly beautiful write.

  • Rhyme Me a Smile

    A great piece about the stuff that matters. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Daydreamertoo

    This is all so true, and as per your comment on mine. We see children making mistakes and we know they are, yet they have to discover them for themselves and we wish we could prevent it but, we can’t but as adults and (older) we know they need to live and to fully live they need to love and be hurt to be able to really learn what love truly is.
    A lovely, deep, emotion filled write.

    RYN: No, Shirley Bassey is an international singer (not so well known in the states though apparently) and she was made a Dame with an (OBE) Order of the British Empire as an honour by Queen Elizabeth for all of her many, many years in showbiz and her contributions to it all etc, so, she really is entitled by that name now as a title: Dame Shirley Bassey. 🙂

  • Shawna

    Time for a new poem, John. : )

    Check this out when you get a chance:

  • sweeter

    Amazing must be said… and sad

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