Poem: Dear Troubled Neighbor

Updated on July 28, 2019
Mark Tulin profile image

Besides writing poems about personal narratives, Mark enjoys exploring a variety of topics from surfing to juicy grandma kisses.

Children of Combative Families

I've lived in many apartments with a wide variety of neighbors. Most have been neighborly, while a few others have been downright scary. One particular couple seemed to fight on a regular basis and, on numerous occasions, the police had to be called. It felt as though a tragedy was brewing. As far as I know, there weren't any injuries, but there were, perhaps, invisible wounds that ran deeper.

As a former family therapist, I had worked with many combative families and tried to convey the importance of handling conflict in a civil way and not with abuse. Children of abusive families tend to perpetuate this behavior as adults. This poem is dedicated to the children who are prisoners of such tumultuous families.

Poem: Dear Troubled Neighbor

I’m writing you this letter
because I live directly below you
and can hear the shaking
of the walls, the stomping
on the floors, and the slamming
of the doors.

As a child of marital conflict,
I walked through those fires
and quakes of family discord.
My parents’ marriage
was much like yours,
leaving a rubble of destruction
everywhere.

I was once the child
who was caught in the middle,
perhaps like your daughter,
pulled in opposite directions,
having to choose a side,
until my childhood split in disrepair.

Neither parent cared enough
to call a truce
or to spare me
from the vicious cycle
of anger’s indignation.

And so, as a child, I sent out
a feeble cry to my parents,
shrouded in troublesome behaviors,
causing self-imposed problems,
hardships too numerous to mention.

Take heed, my neighbor.
It’s not for me
but for your offspring
and your family’s future.

If you want to avoid
more suffering and pain,
deal with your disharmony
in a civil and a more peaceful way
or face a grievous end.

Questions & Answers

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      • AdamMason113 profile image

        Adam Mason 

        11 days ago from Melbourne, Australia

        I'm sorry about that. Yes definitely, keep writing! I enjoy it

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        11 days ago from Santa Barbara, California

        A lot less, Adam. They both have passed away. I find writing about it helps greatly.

      • AdamMason113 profile image

        Adam Mason 

        11 days ago from Melbourne, Australia

        Hi Mark, I enjoyed the poem. Is the anger still around towards your parents to this day? I'm 24 and still resentful.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        12 days ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Genna, for your input. Denial is the most widely used defense mechanism. People only deal with what they can handle. And kids can’t handle too much.

      • Genna East profile image

        Genna East 

        12 days ago from Massachusetts, USA

        Hi Mark...

        This is a stunning poem, Mark...I only wish it could be read by everyone. That you could take such experiences and give "voice to them," as Lorna mentioned below, in a positive way by helping families through therapy is just wonderful.

        Children often bury feelings from such abusive environments, which can often lead to acting out in a variety of harmful ways in later years.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        2 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thanks for the complement,Finnegan. Much luck in your social work career.

      • wpcooper profile image

        Finnegan Williams 

        2 weeks ago from Cheyenne

        A powerful little poem. I am studying social work and empathize with your keen observations. I like the video you made with the poem and you read really well.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        2 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Laura. I agree. Poetry always sounds better if it’s from a place of experience and truth.

      • FloridaGardener profile image

        Laura Grace 

        2 weeks ago from Tampa, Florida

        Mark I love your poem, specially because it comes from your own experience. I think poems that are written from the heart of our own past are the most touching. I can see you are a good person trying to save future sorrow to that child that is caught in a war. And it’s unfortunate that parents don’t realize the emotional damage these conflicts cause on their children. Very good message.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        3 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Brenda for the kind words.

      • Brenda Arledge profile image

        BRENDA ARLEDGE 

        3 weeks ago from Washington Court House

        Nice work. I can see the pain you feel watching your neighbors child go through this torment.

        Good write. I enjoyed your video of reading your poem also.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        3 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        It could be getting worse, as well, John, with all the stresses that parents face nowadays. I believe that parents get so angry in the struggle of meeting their needs that they lose perspective of their fragile son or daughter in the house who has to hear their fighting.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Mark this poem highlights a very real problem in our society, domestic dispute, and the children are often the unfortunate “meat in the middle.” Having worked in the field as a family therapist you are well qualified to write about this in a poem that makes a plea for the couple’s daughter.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        3 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Good point, Paul. "Objects separated couples will draw lots to have." To take a step further with these warring couples, children almost become like property to be divided up and moved around at the whims of family courts.

      • Paul Balagtas profile image

        Paul Balagtas 

        3 weeks ago from Philippines

        Family is taken lightly these days and children are seen as objects separated couples will drawlots to have. This poem is a reminder of what our society is taking for granted now.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        3 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Lorna, for the kind words. Your reference to untold damage resonates with me. We don’t know the extent of the damage because children can’t verbalize it all.

      • Lorna Lamon profile image

        Lorna Lamon 

        3 weeks ago

        You have given a voice to the children in this heart breaking poem Mark. This form of abuse does untold damage which takes years to heal and unfortunately I see its results all too often. Written with such a depth of feeling and honesty your poem is incredibly insightful.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        3 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Lora. Totally agree with your comment. And these troubled parents need to be supported and encouraged to work through their issues by other family members or friends. And if their problems are beyond repair, to plan their separation in a way that satisfies the family’s needs.

      • Lora Hollings profile image

        Lora Hollings 

        3 weeks ago

        Your poem is a passionate plea for parents to realize the important responsibility they have not to raise their children in an environment of discord and conflict. It makes children feel very insecure about themselves and causes constant stress that can effect their performance in school, their feelings about themselves and even their emotional and physical health. If there is such conflict going on between the couple, then they need to seek immediate help from a marriage counselor or a family therapist to deal with this problem before it has lasting negative effects on their children. A profound poem, Mark.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        3 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        That’s quite a story, Flourish, and you’re right, it happens across all walks of life and socioeconomic groups. It’s sad whoever’s involved.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        3 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Absolutely, Tamara. I would have given you a prime appointment. :)

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        3 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Totally agree, Dana. Sometimes it’s the right choice to co-parent separately rather than risk harm to the kids by staying together.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        3 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Tim, for your kind words. People get help either when their ready or when they’re forced to. Usually it’s the later when it comes to domestic problems. Our greatest defense mechanism is denial. Unless the judge tells us to do it; it ain’t happening.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        3 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Very much so, Lori.

      • Mark Tulin profile imageAUTHOR

        Mark Tulin 

        3 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        Thank you, Ruby Jean. I believe that the parents get so wrapped up in their own anger and injustice that they can’t see any one else.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        3 weeks ago from USA

        Heartrending poem and it occurs in all neighborhoods. There used to be a doctor and his family living next door. One night I was awakened by flashing police blue lights at two in the morning. Of course, I peeped outside to see what was going on. The neighbor was out on his front lawn with only his drawers on, obviously intoxicated, and talking loudly to the police. He had been in some kind of physical altercation, and they handcuffed the man and removed him from the premises. The doctor ended up losing his medical license because of prescription abuse and the family also lost their home. It's probably a good thing the couple divorced. You never know for sure what goes on in people's lives, but the kids suffer the most.

      • Rhyme Vine Poetry profile image

        Tamara Yancosky 

        3 weeks ago from Uninhabited Regions

        Another sensitive poem, Mark. Beautiful.

        I did not realize that you were a therapist. I would have come to you a long time ago... lol.

      • Dana Tate profile image

        Dana Tate 

        3 weeks ago from LOS ANGELES

        You find this more and more. Parent's so angry with each other they cant put their differences aside for the sake of their children. Let me be clear I'm not judging. I understand we're human and it's easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and see nothing else.

        The problem is there are others who are damaged by those actions and the repercussions can cause irreparable damage that will travel down to generations.

        No one wants to see kids separated from either parent but its better to co-parent separately than try to stay together and be miserable it's not healthy for the child.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        3 weeks ago from U.S.A.

        Mark, I enjoyed your masterful work. The biggest victim of these family disputes is often the child. Your poem captures this splendidly. I remember one instance in which I lived near a neighbor who had a boyfriend who frequently abused her. When we suggested she seek help, ironically enough, she attacked the apartment manager. Eventually, she was evicted, and the child was surrendered to social services. Sometimes, I think about whatever happened to that child. I pray she eventually had a normal life. You are a poet from the heart, friend, and artist of the soul. Respectfully, Tim

      • lambservant profile image

        Lori Colbo 

        3 weeks ago from Pacific Northwest

        Heart breaking.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        3 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

        It would be great if your neighbor's could read this poem. If they only knew the sorrow this causes a child, I have been there. Insightful poetry, written with feelings.

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