Collateral Damage


Wherever, you are now
I want you to know
Far your actions continue to go

The day you decided
To take my father’s life
Uncertainty and loneliness coincided
You might as well of taken mine
I tried my best to hide it
But I really wasn’t fine

The day you pulled the trigger
You also left me with a hole
A piece of something bigger
That I would never get to know

I wonder if you had seeds
If you wonder about us bastards too
A life haunted
By past misdeeds

Anger towards my parent
Was a symptom
My thinking was errant
My father too was a victim
But how do you explain
Death to an adolescent?

You deprived me
Of certain moments
A ball thrown to me
And words never spoken

You made my innocence
Vanish faster than expected
In a sense
You helped build the walls I erected

You reversed my life
I was enslaved while free
I found freedom inside
Now that I
Find myself in your shoes
I understand
Your point of view
A grown man
Finally seeing
Where his vision was skewed

We’re much alike
In that I repeated
The cycle of a life deleted
Tears stream down my eyes
As I
Think about the lives …
Lived with a void


  1. Abby on July 28, 2021 at 12:03 AM

    Wow – your ability to self reflect is impressive and profound. I can tell that you are a thoughtful and empathetic person. Thank you for sharing your story, you are a talented writer!

  2. Melissa on July 28, 2021 at 9:00 AM

    Well written and moving description on what a death means to the children left behind and how it can effect them and change the course of their lives – sometimes for the worse.

  3. MB on August 4, 2021 at 11:37 AM

    Hi MV, this was the stanza that really gave me the chills:
    You made my innocence
    Vanish faster than expected
    In a sense
    You helped build the walls I erected

    and from there it really gave me a glimpse at the change your life has taken. Wishing you all the best, keep writing!

  4. Shari on August 9, 2021 at 3:13 PM

    I love a lot of things about this poem. Your openness — to expressing your feelings, to describing how your feelings changed, to using the poetic form in such an interesting and creative way that supports your message — is brave and strong. The poem grabs the reader from the start, which is a hallmark of a good poem. And its path and final message are unpredictable: also hallmarks of a good poem. Not every tragedy can be refashioned into a triumph; sadly, many things in life are tragic, period. But you have laid the foundation for your journey, helped the reader to feel what you have felt (another characteristic of a good poem!), and shown the universality in your very particular experience. Bravo!

  5. Editor on August 11, 2021 at 11:01 AM

    I hope more people read this poem. This captures how trauma continues. Every line, I feel like I understood. I empathize. It is also so well done. “A piece of something bigger” captures something ineffable but it makes sense somehow still and “I wonder if you had seeds”. I love how the poem says so much without directly saying it. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  6. Katie on August 16, 2021 at 9:40 AM

    Your poem is beautiful! It really took me through the stages of your journey thus far and provided insight into your feelings. I hope that you continue to learn from the circumstances that were thrown at you and grow as a person. Thank you for your lovely words!

  7. Jonathan Panton on August 16, 2021 at 9:41 AM

    That was a very powerful story talking about your loss from your dads death

  8. Madalena Aspiras on August 17, 2021 at 7:37 PM

    This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you MV for sharing your story, being open and letting the pain that you’ve lived translate into this moving poetic justice.

  9. Maxine Cassell on August 18, 2021 at 9:25 PM

    MV, your poem is emotional and beautiful. I can feel the emotion as I read it line by line and feel the sadness of what you lost. It is very powerful when the view changes and you understand the other side. This is an incredible poem that reaches many people. Please don’t stop writing.

  10. Adriana on August 19, 2021 at 10:19 AM

    I absolutely love the line where you said “A life haunted by past misdeeds,” as it shows how the shadow of trauma is never truly shaken. I felt the emotion come through while I was reading in each stanza, and loved how you continued to open up and build your story as the poem progressed.

  11. Sophia on August 19, 2021 at 10:22 AM

    Such a powerful piece – may your father rest in peace.

  12. Sophie on August 19, 2021 at 10:24 AM

    I want to start out by saying how beautifully written this is. It’s genuinely so, so good. The part where you said “But how do you explain // Death to an adolescent?” really hit for me. First of all, the rhyming in that stanza really made the quote stand out, and secondly I recently had a death in my family. I cannot imagine losing my father, but I recently lost my grandfather. We had a sort of complicated relationship, and when he died, part of what made me sad was the thought of my younger cousins. His death came when I was 18, so I had witnessed other funerals, however my little cousins (I call them my tiny humans) are 8 and 10. He died rather slowly, and as his brain and body functions were slowly taken away, I wondered how they would understand someone they had loved so much becoming so different. By the time he passed away, he didn’t remember who they were, and only partially remembered by older sister and I. Truly the concept of explaining death to young people is one of the hardest things, and it makes sense why people react in different ways. Thank you for sharing your poem, I really enjoyed reading it 🙂

  13. Laura on August 19, 2021 at 10:33 AM

    Hi MV, I wanted to tell you that I really liked your poem. I may not relate, I may not understand the feeling, but what you wrote there spoke to me. It made me realize there are a lot of people that’ve gone through similar pain, that that feeling of anger towards someone is real, that grief is okay, that it’s okay to be sad and cry over someone’s death, but that it’s unfair when that someone didn’t deserve that ending. Your poem opened my eyes, I need to stop taking things for granted, because you’ll never know when you’ll lose what you most love and care for the most.

  14. Lalah Saleem on August 19, 2021 at 10:36 AM

    I love how how the poem starts off with resentment for your father’s killer then ends with you finally understanding the killer’s point of view now that the roles are reversed. It shows how parenting or the lack thereof can have a huge impact on who the child becomes and how having to grow up at a young age can lead to bad choices. It highlights how taking someone’s life can be a ripple effect, hurting other people, not just the target. The end of the poem to me shows growth and understanding. It says to me “I am more than this void. I am more than my poor decisions.” I want you to know that you are more and this poem is everything.

  15. Alex Waltman on August 19, 2021 at 10:38 AM

    I enjoyed the call back to the hole in your last line, it really pull it all together.

  16. Daniel on September 3, 2021 at 8:11 PM

    This is an incredibly powerful poem, fantastic writing and full of emotion. My one edit would be to change “ You might as well of taken mine” to “ You might as well have taken mine”

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