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Narrative Poetry: The Worse Case Scenario

A former family therapist, Mark is an author, humorist, poet, and short-story writer who enjoys a good comedy.

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Notes from a Retired Therapist

In my early days as a family therapist, I would visit my clients in their homes. This was not the most comfortable way of doing therapy because there were multiple distractions during the course of an hour. The poem "The Worst Case Scenario" is an accumulation of my worst moments while working in family homes. This particular case is fictionalized; the names are fabricated as well as the scenario. Of course, there were many positive, joyful, and fruitful moments as well, but we tend to remember the unpleasant ones more clearly. Please enjoy the abridged version of the poem on Vimeo.

The Worse Case Scenario

The family that made me quit therapy

was beyond insane

There was a sister who never came home,

a mother who'd rather not be tending the young,

an alcoholic father who cursed and gambled,

and a delinquent son named John


I was an in-home therapist then,

when I walked into a row house

that faced a cement square,

around the corner from a convenience store

A crying baby was crawling on a dirty carpet

in need of a diaper change,

and a son was strangulating his father

on a sofa with an old TV show playing


The police were called,

the son was arrested

The Mom was off to Ohio

with an internet lover named Charles

There was a mess of humanity

too far gone to salvage

A strew of DSM diagnoses,

a stranger with a garden hose,

a neighborhood in quarantine,

and addicts addicted to methamphetamine


I tried to help and clearly stated my case

but there was no love lost between a pack of wolves

When a whole family makes up its mind

not to change but to go their separate ways,

it's a crying shame

A group of lives in a chaotic disarray

There was no listening to me

or even the voice of reason

Therapy was just a seven-letter word

and to hell with God and Country


It was then that I changed my career path,

giving up my advanced degrees,

my desire to help the dysfunctional

and those suffering from mental malaise,

for a quiet life as a painter of words

that wouldn't put me

in jeopardy.



© 2021 Mark Tulin

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