This is my post for the Sunday Scribblings’ May 13th prompt: “second chance”.

Author’s note: My entire life I have wanted a second chance at birth, to know my natural mother. Early in life this not knowing was a source of great pain and disruption. With great frequency into my teens, and even occasionally today, I’ve had deeply unsettling nightmares of total blackness accompanied by the abject horror of being completely alone and lost in the nothingness. It caused much anger and acting out as a child. The fury has been quelled over the years, but there is still a dull, tugging angst that lingers. “Sentenced” is my lament of no second chance.



Thrown away,

whole and useful,

but classified unneeded,

labeled unfortunate.

Left alone

to endure harsh abandonment.



Sentenced for life,

to the sorrows of the unwanted.


no second chance,

guilty only of inconvenience.

Rob Kistner © 2007

25 thoughts on “Sentenced”

  1. A rather bleak take on the prompt. What not redemption ? No ray of light to taunt you, to torment you with hope ?
    Not that I didn’t like it, of course…

  2. I understand very well what you say …my situation was similar and not knowing sometimes make us idealize the unknown

  3. arboleda

    I no longer idealize or vilify the unknown nature of my abandonment — there is simply a very large part of me that would like to know. It would likely make no difference in my life, but it would in my soul.

  4. Clare

    The silver lining of the hurt and confusion this created for me in my early life is the strong bond of love I have with my children.

    They know now, have always known, and will know for as long as I draw breath — that they are wanted, needed, and appreciated — that they are deeply loved.

  5. I like it as it is, too. A cheery ending would ring false. Surprising sometimes how open endings can hurt so much. Some childhood nightmares at least scar over, ugly, but not open to the air (and I’ve taking that metaphor waaaaay to far. . .

  6. I can’t imagine what its like but feeling rejected from so early on must have profound effects to which on one level there is no balancing light. I like grim poetry, if its real like this one is.

  7. This was beautiful, Rob- very heartfelt. I can only say that I am so glad that you were able to give to your children what you felt you never had… that in itself is a miracle…
    BTW- I couldn’t coment on your PT post the other day but I thought it was beautiful…

  8. A very moving piece. I know the words speak of your experience but I can’t help picking up on the universal nature of the post. A wonderful poem.

  9. Beaman, Ren, Juliet, Sognatrice, Regina, Matthew, Gautami

    Thank you all very much! I am glad this very stark piece resonated with you. It is what the prompt brought to my mind.

    I am an instinctive, fluid, “gut-driven” individual – spontaneous, occasionally over-the-top in my younger days. I am also a designer, a plotter — a patient, detailed, organizer.

    At my manic extremes I can seem an alphabet soup of ADD/OCD. These two “natures” that reside within me conflict, even war at times — sort of a mildly-schizophrenic type of procrastination.

    It is sometimes a crazy little life I lead, being so acutely prone to both right-brain and left-brain dominance — but I believe this also allows my writing, art, and my designs to be both real, and reasonably well crafted (to the extent of my abilities).

    I have learned to allow each of these seemingly conflicting natures, to enjoy free reign in my life — even if it does leave me conflicted at times. Truth is, both of these natures were well-honed from as early as I can remember.

    The gut-instinct delivered me from danger so many times as a child — and my plotting side “kept” me safe for as long as possible. I won’t go into details, but I know this is how and why they both grew and now thrive.

    What I’m leading to is “how” I respond to the writing prompts from PT, SS, and from the groups in which I’m involved. When I hear a prompt I react, an image forms. I feel the better pieces I have created are the ones in which I did not balk from that primary instinctive reaction to the prompt (or to life for that matter).

    There are times when I fear going with my first reaction, instead, intellectualizing another direction. The fear can be that the first direction is too raw and real and might truly shock (self-censored).

    Sometimes the fear is I don’t want to be considered a “Gloomy Gus”, that no one wants to read because of the dark side of who I am. The reaction from Nathalie to “Sentenced” sparked this “insecurity” I’ll call it — so I offered a second, more positive response to the prompt, sort of like an apology.

    The positive reaction I have received from all of you has afforded me comfort and validation — not with regard to the quality that this piece may or may not represent, but to the fact that “Sentenced” is a very real poem. It is a bit more real and unfiltered than “Song of Love” (my second offering for the “second chance” prompt) — though this 2nd offering is also very real, just safer if you will.

    But not everything that comes as my initial gut inspiration is gloomy. “Lost in Azure” was my first instinctive reaction the the last SS prompts, which for me were “azure” and “erode”. My new art post “Dreams” isn’t gloomy.

    Bottom line, I try to keep my creativity (writing, art, designing) as real and close to my “genuine” core as I possibly can, believing the work will be more real and poignant — hopefully more powerful, hitting at the human core of the reader or observer, touching them. That is why I create, to communicate honestly, to reach out and touch.

    I then use my detailing/organizing nature to edit/refine my work for the best possible finished representation of my initial gut reaction.

    That is who I am, that is how I do “me”. For those who can’t handle me, I’m sorry. But please know, you’re getting it as real as I am able to deliver it — “and so it goes”.

  10. It was very real very raw. Sometimes we ALL feel useless and abandoned. It doesn’t matter if you were given away or kept and ignored. Very moving Piece of honesty. thanks 🙂

  11. HI there…………
    very interesting creative process…… I can relate to 🙂

    I also love the stark open feelings from your heart poem……

    Most people aren’t comfortable with open raw feelings displayed, I have learned, and I’m sure you have too. But, you know what? Someone’s got to put it out there!!

    Good on ya!

    Go for the genuine always…………write from your gut, as you do!

    take care.

  12. Lucy, Awareness

    Thank you for the kind words. I’m just not very effective trying to fabricate a written piece. Comes of rigid and empty.

    –and so it goes–

  13. Everybody needs a mother. I know abandonment. You describe it well.
    It’s a rage. It’s intense fear. It’s seemingly unresolvable.
    You do well to express it, and in expressing it Rob. I commend you for that. It’s yours, this abandonment. That’s what the rage is saying.
    I am here, listening.

    Thank you for the wonderful poem.

    Very good work.

    My only criticism is that it doesn’t seem finished. I feel that you stopped before you were finished what you were saying, in my opinion.
    Perhaps this is because I was waiting for the resolution?

    All life, including art, is an experiment, be it in perception, judgment, or action. It’s the brave who go beyond the typical boundaries, daring to find out what’s there, or should I say here?

    Abandonment is a scary place, and very difficult to understand. I can only say I admire you for embracing it.


  14. oh rob, I read your comment about your creative process and self-censoring and my heart moved. This sunday scribbling prompt proved the same response in me: a visceral idea, then a kickback of ‘no, you don’t want to depress everyone’. I do struggle with this issue a lot, especially since I have chosen to write my blog about a difficult theme – there’s a part of me that is always at the ready to abandon my blog entirely. Anyway, enough about me! I’m glad that you didn’t censor yourself on this one, as your poem is powerful, raw and intensely moving (at the same time as being well-crafted!). I loved it for the fact that it took me away from my reading ‘comfort zone’ and offered me true, undiluted experience and emotion.

  15. Camille

    Thank you for the gracious words!

    “Sentenced” is a whole and complete work. There is no resolution within its bounds. The subject was direct to the heart of my experience of abandonment — there is no ending that resolves that matter in my life. I never got the second chance to know my natural mother, nor why I was abandoned — and I never will. I have tried to no avail.

    Have I moved on in my life?  Yes, most definitely. But that was not the subject of “Sentenced”. If you explore my blog you will find the proof that I’ve moved on. Moving on, accepting that there is no resolution to my abandonment, is my only choice — and I have made the choice to do so.

  16. Unfolding Rose

    First of all, thank you for your very kind words.

    “Sentenced” was written to touch the core of “human” — human need, human emotion. It’s intent was not to provide comfort, but to be honest and real — to penetrate the haze of indifference that can settle over each of us.

    In doing so, I hoped it would be a thread to connect the humanness of all who read it; to say look, we are all alive — feel your aliveness!

    I’m pleased you were moved.

    Working through the focus of your blog must present you with many dark moments. I respect your choices in how you deal with this, and what you choose to, and not to, expose.

    I do not know your particular aliveness, but I join you in being alive — and cherish it with you.

  17. Rob-

    This poem was so sad and it made me feel like I wish I could make all the hurt go away and give you a way to start life over.
    So, just the fact that your poem made me feel that is why I think your poem was brilliant! Really well done. lovely. and sad. I can’t stop thinking about this poem, the words, your loss. it’s so eerie.


  18. Jennifer

    You are most gracious in complimenting this piece. Thank you!

    Please know that this hurt of abandonment, which was for many of my early years, acute and profound — it is now, save a few instances when a circumstance may exacerbate it, only a dull tug, and most of the time not present with me. I have moved on with my life.

    But if this reading put you in touch with your humanness, your aliveness — then I am pleased I was able to connect.

    I write about this subject when I do, to awaken our human spirit — not to solicit sympathy. I am most grateful that you wish me a second chance, but I am more gratified that “Sentenced” made you feel – put you in touch with your human essence.

    Thank you for sharing that with me Jennifer!

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