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Poem: A Collector's Hope


A former family therapist, Mark is an author, poet, and short-story writer who enjoys writing narrative poetry.


The Sadness of a Hoarder's Life

Collecting stamps or baseball cards as a hobby is one thing, but when a person gathers and hoards as a compulsion, that's when it becomes a significant concern.

During my days as a therapist, I had several clients who had issues with hoarding. Not only was there fear and anxiety attached to hoarding but much sadness. No matter how many things a hoarder had accumulated or surrounded himself, a dark cloud of sorrow seemed to hover over him or her.

The hoarder's thought was, "If only that were mine, my life would be so much better." There is a hope that one day, they will have collected enough things or that the next item they picked up would fill that emptiness. Of course, a hoarder never becomes satisfied or fulfilled.

Trauma is a bitter pill to swallow. The hoarder's life lingers in a painful past and often hurts the ones they love the most. In this poem, the hoarder ends up losing everything. The more he tries to hold onto things, and the tighter his grip, the more his life slips away.

Poem: A Collector's Hope

My friend died

with empty pockets

and an odd smile

with a collector’s hope

of a prosperous afterlife.

He held onto random things

that he saved from fire sales

and factory closeouts;

stowed away his safekeeping

in a storage bin with all his misfired plans,

oil pans, and stacks of Popular Mechanics.

He slept in a late model Ford

after his wife changed the locks

on the front door.

He packed his car with memories

that reminded him of her.

He wanted to hold on to his wife,

tuck her away with the rest

of his belongings, but his lawyer

told him to stop trying to harbor

something already lost and gone.

So he stood idly by as the woman

who once stole his heart

and cooked his tenderloin just right,

run away with the neighborhood butcher.

My friend left a hoarder’s legacy,

a connoisseur of fine trash,

while his wife had an endless supply of prime rib

and a lifetime of ground chuck.

A Collector's Hope


Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on April 07, 2019:

Thank you, Genna. I try to start from a place of compassion. We all have a little hoarder in us.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on April 07, 2019:

The horaders life must be a sad one...I've never really understood it, but you gave us some remarkable insight into what creates/maintains this obsession.

Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on April 07, 2019:

Thank you, Harish for you kind words. The hoarder’s life is indeed painful and with much suffering, but like all of us with troubles, there is still hope.

Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on April 07, 2019:

Very easy to write, sknzuza. Sign in to your Hubpage account and push the Write button in red letters and you’re off.

Harish Mamgain from New Delhi , India on April 07, 2019:

Hi Mark , you portrayed the miserable life of a hoarder so powerfully. Enjoyed reading this fine poem.



Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on April 04, 2019:

Thank you, sknzuza for the wonderful complement. And proud to be labeled Creative Writing Big Ups!!



Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on April 02, 2019:

Thank you, Li-Jen. Good observation. Showing the hoarder’s point of view is a more compassionate perspective.

Li-Jen Hew on April 02, 2019:

Hello Mark. Cool choice of topic. I like the fact that you see from the perspective of your clients. A clever way of finding inspiration. Hoarders search for more things to keep to try to fill in the emptiness they feel. Your poem reflects that. Sad story but still a nice poem.

Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on April 01, 2019:

I wonder if she grew up deprived of love or affection. It's interesting how these things start. It’s not a rational behavior, but an unconscious drive that tends to be triggered by a trauma.

Diane Denison from Cincinnati Ohio on April 01, 2019:

Mark I have known a couple hoarders. One was a stewardess she was single and had the garage,basement and every room was filled. For example 7 blow dryers or more. She was not spiritual and she most definitely filling a void. She was very independent so I don't think it was from not being in a relationship.

Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on March 31, 2019:

Thank you, PA. I’m glad you mentioned having faith as a way of filling the void. For many people that works and people need to try that option, and at the same time to be open to professional help before the problem becomes too overwhelming.

PoetikalyAnointed on March 31, 2019:

Hi Mark,

This is touching and rarely spoken of in verse. You did an awesome job painting the tragic loneliness and sadness of hoarders. I say loneliness because something is obviously missing within so they try and fill the void with things. It's one example of many to show that if you're living a spiritual-free life and don't know Jesus Christ or God, your life is empty life. You gotta have some type of faith in this world to be truly fulfilled with joy.

Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on March 30, 2019:

So true, Shauna. Happiness is an inside job. Accumulating things only weigh you down. Letting go is much healthier. My Philly accent sticks to me like the birthmark on the back of my arm. Thanks for your comment, Shauna. P.S: the Phillies may do it this year!!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on March 30, 2019:

Mark, I've never known a hoarder, but I know people who do or have. It's a sad life. I can understand collecting things that remind us of happy (or happier) times, but I never really looked at how collecting can get out of control. Anything fueled by sadness and loneliness just leads to more of the same. Happiness cannot be found in things. It has to come from within and emanate outwards. It'll come back at you like a boomerang.

BTW, I definitely hear the Philly in your voice! :-)


gtreat poem i love it

Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on March 29, 2019:

John, just the fact you’re offering us some of your stuff from the shed, eliminates you from the hoarder category. So you can relax. :)

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on March 29, 2019:

This fine offering is both funny and sad, Mark, mostly the latter. I can see how easy it is for people to become hoarders and you outline some major reasons. We have a whole shed full of items to give away if anyone wants them.....please, I don't want to be called a hoarder..lol!

Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on March 29, 2019:

Thanks, Tim. Sometimes the things we really desire get lost in the haze of our distractions. We can’t see the forest for the trees.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on March 29, 2019:

What a sad poem, Mark. But you are so right in how the hoarders puts away so many things that he/she winds up missing the important things. The rhyming scheme was beautiful and potent; the tragic irony in the work is right on the mark.

Thanks for a great believable poem with realistic consequences.

Much respect and deepest admiration,


Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on March 29, 2019:

Thanks, Brenda.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on March 29, 2019:

Good job in describing such a sad situation.

Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on March 29, 2019:

Verlie, thank you for your comment and insight on this subject. I didn’t even think of Spring Cleaning until you mentioned it. I’m lucky that my wife is a closet organizer and regularly gets rid of clutter in the house. She’s taught me a lot about letting go of stuff that I don’t wear or that don’t reflect my current style.

Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on March 29, 2019:

Thanks Ruby for your comment. The work with hoarders is complex. Some approaches help the client deal with underlying issues that can include loss, anxiety, and trauma. Other approaches may be behavioral and cognitive behavioral. These approaches vary with each client. And some are helped by a therapist who comes into the home to develop a plan for letting go of things incrementally. The process is slow because of the very strong attachments they have with these objects.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 29, 2019:

This was sad to read. I do not know any hoarders, but I can imagine a life built with things. Your poetry told his story well. Is there no cure?

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on March 29, 2019:

Mark, Your poem is so bitterly sad, (and clever too with the food analogy) what an awful way to end up, living in a car, with what's been salvaged from a marriage locked away in a storage unit.

Your friends situation shows a direct connection between his loss, and his hoarding, that is clear.

Hoarding is a fascinating pathology, and in extreme cases shocking to see (I'm thinking of the reality TV shows I've seen about hoarders).

I've also seen some of this in real life, and it is truly a full time job to manage all that stuff, and eventually the clean-up gets left to friends and family.

In my work as a 'homemaker' I have found myself in situations where I've come up against the 'hoard', and it is a tough job trying to clean a house around all that. I've found it is best not to confront the hoarder because it is clear he/she is already hurting enough. And usually very sensitive to anyone interfering. But it is sad, as you say.

Great subject for a poem now, around Spring clean-up time. I know, I'm in the middle of getting rid of things, feels good.

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