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”

  17. nisha on October 17, 2021 at 3:53 PM

    This poem was well-written and super powerful. You mentioned how you disliked your father’s killer and the self-reflection you went through is dynamic. You expressed your thoughts, feelings, in this beautiful poem. You taught me a lesson to not take things granted because anything can be gone within a second.

  18. ahvuhnee on October 17, 2021 at 6:31 PM

    This is such a powerful poem which shows the cycle of grief and how that can dangerously manifest in some actions. Yet you are very self aware throughout it and it shows great introspection.

  19. Divyaa Matta on October 18, 2021 at 10:18 PM

    This was a very powerful message. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece. It felt like I was there with you on this journey of dealing with grief through the lines of this poem. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Timothy Nicholson on October 27, 2021 at 8:42 AM

    This is an incredibly moving poem. You talk about something truly real and I commend you for taking that risk and being vulnerable. You do a really good job of allowing your reader to feel your pain and deprivation of a father-figure. I also like your rhythm and how you incorporate a rhyme. You do a skillful job of using the rhyme while still getting your point across in a serious fashion.

  21. Gillian Fuhrmeister on October 31, 2021 at 1:14 PM

    MV, I am so sorry for your loss at a young age. This poem beautifully reflects the impact that this had and continues to have on you.

  22. Chynel on November 2, 2021 at 12:50 PM

    Beautiful poem! I can really begin to feel the deep emotions behind the words and imagery. You do a great job expressing what must have been overwhelming feelings into a single poem easily grasped by the reader.

  23. Mary on November 17, 2021 at 1:16 PM

    This is such a powerful poem, the self-reflection is so impressive and intense. It really made me stop and think. You have an amazing skill for writing raw, emotional poetry!

  24. Meg McTaggart on November 17, 2021 at 1:17 PM

    Not everyone would be able to reflect on the fact that the things you’ve experienced reflect those of the person who took your father. You clearly feel that emotion in the poem – in the way you have single words on some lines makes me think of someone too choked up to speak.

  25. Elle on November 17, 2021 at 1:31 PM

    What a profound reminder of how one trauma trickles down into the lives of so many, and a beautiful use of the hole/emptiness metaphor. I am so deeply sorry that you have to live without your father, and I can only imagine how many what-ifs cross your mind. I hope that you can also feel him with you. A father’s love continues even when he’s gone – he will be there to encourage you and remind you that you are loved, even if it’s only a little voice in your mind. Please keep writing; this is an incredible poem and you have a real talent for writing your soul.

  26. Luke on November 18, 2021 at 4:30 PM

    This is incredibly moving and a beautiful way of putting suffering into art. I appreciate your vulnerability and willingness to express a part of your life so full of pain. The writing of this poem left tears in my eyes, and I hope you continue to write. This is an incredible depiction of your life and I’m glad to have read it.

  27. Yoni Kurtz on November 19, 2021 at 11:57 AM


    This stanza had me tearing up, the way you represent this cycle is truly heart-breaking.

    We’re much alike
    In that I repeated
    The cycle of a life deleted
    Tears stream down my eyes\

    Keep up the impressive work!

  28. Reece White on November 29, 2021 at 10:54 AM

    This poem is very well written. You do a very good job at showing how a loss of a loved one can effect a person.

  29. nim khan on November 29, 2021 at 1:33 PM

    ahhh this gave me the chills
    I love how you took your own experience and wrote about it.
    you are a very talented writer.

  30. Elizabeth W on December 7, 2021 at 4:38 PM

    Hi MV! What a powerful poem! I read your 7th stanza a couple of times – great beat/flow!

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

    The question in the 5th(?) stanza was also a great pause in the beat of the poem. Great job!

  31. Francisco Salinas on December 7, 2021 at 11:54 PM

    Hi MV. I am a student from a class that helps communities out a bit. I am really interested in these types of poems where they tell the story of an individual. Yours was very heartbreaking but also showed a lot I wanted to mention. This may sound like copypasta from the other compliments you received, but the way you started the poem addressing how the person that took your father’s life still causes problems is powerful. It’s like all of your actions spiral to this one key memory. You have all of these lines that build up sympathy for me reading it, and when I got to the line “you also left me with a hole[…] that I would never get to know,” shows how there is something from your relationship with your father, perhaps a mystery to be resolved since you were an adolescent, which has stuck by you to this day. I liked the line where you talk about the walls being erected, because it is symbolic of how this person caused the actions you made. The ending though, where you connected to that person is one I would not have guessed. I could also feel myself falling in to a void—a black hole that consumes the story, because there is not any more to tell. For a lack of a better word, your poem was fantastic. I am glad I got to hear your story, and if you think about it really, your story made it over here. Powerful stuff, amigo.

  32. Faith on December 12, 2021 at 9:10 PM

    Hi there! I am currently taking an online class that aims to freely engage with the community of writers from outside of university and corporal standards. What has gotten my attention about your poem is that you wrote it in a way where it feels as if you are actually talking to something. Or in this case to someone. I really like the flow of the poem and how it really hones in on your emotions and your unique mindset. When I first read through the poem I read it as more of a monologue than a conversation because it also felt like you may have been having a conversation with yourself. Kind of like a personal reflection if that makes sense. All in all I really enjoyed this poem!

  33. Roxanne on January 8, 2022 at 11:12 PM

    Dear MV, Words can’t express the sorrow I feel for you and the cycles of violence that destroy so many lives and families. Thank you for sharing your story and for being so vulnerable and real about your personal tragedy. You tell your story in such a powerful, poetic, and personal way- as a poem and as a testament your work truly shines. I hope that you are able to find healing and peace in your life and future. I hope that writing is able to help you, you are very gifted! Warmest wishes, Roxanne

  34. Maddie on January 10, 2022 at 10:34 PM

    Your poem was beautiful. I could truly feel the pain you felt then and feel now. It is always chilling when people are able to express that grief and loss through words and you did an amazing job of that. I am so sorry for your loss.

  35. Zach on April 13, 2022 at 6:11 PM

    This was such a great poem, thank you for sharing it! I think it was amazing how you reflected on actions that people can commit that not only hurt lives of their victim but by the people that love, care about, and surround that person who they hurt. I think a lot could change in the world if people thought about all the people their actions can hurt, even those outside of who they intended to do harm. This was beautiful, thanks for sharing this!

  36. HJ on April 15, 2022 at 11:36 AM

    The power of this message is unbelievable. While I can’t really put myself in your shoes, I felt like I could feel the emotions you had when writing this. It also made me wonder and hope that being able to express this helped you cope with such a heavy emotional burden. Thank you for sharing these words.

  37. Sadie on July 12, 2022 at 11:33 AM

    An amazing poem that shows the cycle of violence encouraged and perpetuated by the legal system. I loved how you artfully demonstrated how your position has changed as you got older, but still maintained a consistent theme of death and loss throughout. Thank you for sharing.

  38. Juliana on October 2, 2022 at 12:30 PM

    I love how you expressed your feelings, and you do a really great job at explaining to the readers. You have a great way of showing the loss that you had suffered. Keep up the great work.

  39. Julia Santosuosso on October 10, 2022 at 11:24 PM

    This work was absolutely beautiful. I loved the rhyming pattern you chose to implement it added a good rhythm to the poem making it flow nicely. You have a wonderful way of putting very difficult experiences and emotions into words. And not only words, but powerful and coherent words that make a true impact on whoever reads them. Thank you so much for sharing this work.

  40. olivia on October 31, 2022 at 7:17 PM

    This was a poem that was quite heartbreaking, and I feel your sadness through your words. It must be hard losing a parental figure at such a young age, definitely missing some of those moments, and I cannot even imagine what that must feel like. Grief is a really difficult thing to deal with and there are unhealthy cycles that may need to be broken. This was really well written, great job.

  41. Cassidy on November 1, 2022 at 8:34 AM

    Dear MV,

    This poem was bold and fearless. Your willingness to share something so personal, something so close to home, is so brave. There is a lot about your poem that struck me and that I thought was incredible. Your writing certainly stands out, and I feel as thought you picked the perfect words to articulate what you are trying to say. In your sixth stanza, you talk about the lack of childhood you lived through due to your father’s death. This stanza stood out to me the most, “You deprived me/of certain moments/a ball thrown to me/and words never spoken.” You have intense imagery that makes reading your poem increasingly more powerful. Additionally, I love that this poem is a reflection of your life, your feelings, and your understanding of things. Thank you for sharing this incredible poem!


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