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Narrative Poetry: The Worse Case Scenario


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


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.


Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on July 02, 2021:

The longer version was the one in print. The video was a shorter poem. I added a paragraph, and I recorded, "I tried to help and stated my case..." Always enjoy your input, FlourishAnyway.

Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on July 02, 2021:

Thanks, John. Inside of a dysfunctional family's house is sometimes like being in a haunted house. There's always something to scare you. However, even with that, many of the families I worked with were sweet and caring people, just with difficult issues.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 02, 2021:

Oh, in their homes!? No wonder. You painted a realistic picture. I'd love to know the long version.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on July 01, 2021:

This type of situation would have been enough to make any good social worker or counsellor chose an alternative career. Thank you for sharing through your poetry, Mark.

Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on July 01, 2021:

Thank you, Maya.

Maya Ellenson from Hobe Sound, Florida on July 01, 2021:

Outstanding narrative poetry, Mark! Truly painted in words!

Mark Tulin (author) from Palm Springs, California on July 01, 2021:

I hope so too, Marlene.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on July 01, 2021:

Your last case! What a nightmare that must have been. It sounds like you made the right decision to get out. I hope your new endeavors are more rewarding than dealing with those "pack of wolves."

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