A Poem by J. Humbert Riddle, Lately Deceased

Editor’s Note:
This poem was mailed to me by an
Unknown sender one day last
July. Whether coincidence or not,
This was the very month of Riddle’s
Mental spiral that ended in
His hospitalization and untimely death.
This is, unfortunately, not a
Complete Riddle poem, as one sheet
Was misplaced… and never found again.


Words I could not say
In tongues I
Never learned to speak.

Passing and never passing
Days by paths gone done
Though gone done –
I never did.

Us and streams and knowing
I on visits to our wood
House, trees cutting and
Cutting, nearby I in woods
Cut and cutting.


Whispers silent too much to
Whisper. Loud voices too
Loud for speech. Words

That cannot mean.


Never sat in desks. People
Never known though
Brushed past on crowded
Streets that heave beneath
A splintered sun.

To towns I meant to drive
To in cars I abandoned along
The way.

Breakfasts taken alone
By silent church walls. Words that



Promises never kept.
Apples picked from trees
That never grew.


All I never said, and more –
Unable to say, speak of

Oceans I swam away from
On planes I did not board in
Airports I got lost to
On streets forgotten in mid-morning mists
I glanced at from corners
In cities I
Let slip from maps that
Flew out my open door…

[The rest has been lost]

Posted as a part of Poets United Sunday Poetry Pantry

8 thoughts on “A Poem by J. Humbert Riddle, Lately Deceased

  1. Sherry Blue Sky September 7, 2015 / 12:48 am

    The approach of fragmented lines works very well to indicate the state of mind of its writer. I especially like the wordplay and repeated words.


  2. Loredana Donovan September 7, 2015 / 1:25 am

    So much loss described here ~ even the poem itself is not complete ~ a perfect ending for an extended metaphor of missed opportunities for the character in your poem. Great imagery.


  3. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) September 7, 2015 / 4:56 am

    I think life is a graveyard of unspoken words.. But maybe you need to have to be sent to a mental hospital to realize that…


  4. Jae Rose September 7, 2015 / 12:37 pm

    Looking back even in the present moment illuminates lost possibilities and different paths…such a wistful and beautiful poem


  5. ZQ September 9, 2015 / 12:34 am

    I do like your style… very effective.


  6. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) September 10, 2015 / 5:05 am

    Hauntingly beautiful. I am now almost in love with the poor, departed Mr Riddle. His inaction and emptiness seem paradoxically so rich! 🙂


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