Inadequately Defined – Writing Prompt #86 – December 21, 2014 – Uncle John


Uncle John was the most whimsical of men

He laughed a lot

He saw the funny side of so much

Nothing appeared to get him down

He was indeed a happy chappy.

But he had a dark side

A side he kept well hidden

For he harboured a pain

A grief that was unimaginable

For once when he was fifteen

His mates went out

As young boys do

To camp to drink, to explore

To do the things young boys love to do.

Camping in an old brown house

He played with the fire, flicked the ashes about,

And never noticed one smouldering ember

Lodged in the bed of his best mate Mike.

Before they could do anything Mike was alight

In the blink of an eye, the house was in flames

Mike and one other boy died that night.


Uncle John’s heartbreak was life long

Shunned by so many

Ostracised by the family

It took a year to get him out of his room.

Uncles John is a whimsical man

It’s a front he puts up

He is a jolly fellow

But like the happy circus clown

There is a depth to this man

Who is kind beyond words

Is the gentlest of men.

I have stayed with Uncle John

Many times growing up

Have listened to his tale

And I know not a night goes by

He doesn’t cry for his mate.


Written for:

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13 Responses to Inadequately Defined – Writing Prompt #86 – December 21, 2014 – Uncle John

  1. J says:

    Oh, this breaks my heart, Michael — wow. To carry this sort of pain with a person — you’d have to put up a great front, have to work every day to convince yourself that life was worth living. The situation you’ve described here is much different — but — in a way it reminds me a bit of Robin Williams. A great front in a wonderful sense of humor and constant motion — but it hid such a world of pain.

    Beautifully written– this really moved me.

    On another note, thank you for the card. I was very touched 🙂

  2. This gave me goosebumps I was very moved and I agree with Jen to carry such pain around. Powerful stuff Michael

  3. This is so sad, Michael. Survivors of any such tragedy is such a punishment…forgiving oneself is the hardest thing to do. A tragedy for those gone and those living.

  4. Lyn says:

    Oh my, that was so, so sad (and incredibly well written).

  5. Michael I had goosebumps, very well written. The pain and anguish that one would experience as a result of an ‘accident’.

  6. That’s a right humbug. One lesson so hard to learn. Playin’ with fire someones’ gonna git himself or another burned. It is a wonder that them older holiday trees that had real candles on ’em didn’t burn down a few more houses. Wishin’ a healin’ for Uncle John.

    And a fine Holiday to you to. Forgiveness is a gift that no wrap can cover. ~Ina

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